pepper spray and dog walks
November 5, 2011
So I promised @Catherina_Guate —
I would write something up about living in the “zone” as in the pepper spray zone — with dogs. Which was where I found myself during WTO, with two big dogs who had to walk at least twice a day, when everything outside in Belltown, Seattle — and I mean EVERYTHING, from the sidewalk to the street to building walls to ornamental shrubs and bushes — was covered in a thick greasy layer of pepper spray.
Pepper spray sticks to everything and floats around in the world and I could not even open windows weeks after WTO ended because the smell would make you gag. On clips you see police spray that stuff at people and then you see people getting their eyes maaloxed and stuff and, from a distance, it might look like that is the end of it. But that’s not a super soaker and that is not water, pepper spray doesn’t go immediately away, it is oil based and just coats everything where it has been sprayed and it takes a long time to dissipate in an environment, especially an urban environment where most surfaces are concrete and metal and pepper spray just sits, going nowhere in a hurry except maybe all over you and your dogs when you try to take a walk.
Dog feet are the first thing you have to worry about because you can leave your shoes at the door but the dogs can’t. I started out trying to wipe the dogs pads with towels but was running out of uncompromised towels fast so we started using absorbent paper towels, like Viva. You also don’t want to spread the pepper spray around, you just want to get it off, because spreading it from the dogs’ foot pads, where it starts out, to in between dog toes where the skin is very sensitive, is bad. So every walk, we’d do the walk, then get back, and I’d use damp paper towels to wipe the dogs foot pads off a bunch, and then dry paper towels to wipe the damp away. You want to use cold water, doing this. Cold water is not fun, but it won’t spread oily residue like warm water will so stick with cold.
Because pepper spray is also on the air, it gets on dogs’ coats too. And this is another case of, you don’t want to spread the pepper spray, you just want to get as much of it off as you can. The oily pepper spray residue is sort of like poison oak, it’s an oily residue and if you use cold water and mild soap to get it off right away, it will do a lot less damage. But soap is a problem, because then that has to be rinsed off, which can further spread oil to below the outer fur coat, and I couldn’t wash the dogs every single time we took a walk. We settled for a sort of compromise, wiping the dogs’ outer coats down with paper towels moistened with cool water and then with dry paper towels to get that off them and that helped too.
Always, always wash your hands after you do this, two or three times if you can, with a dish washing detergent that cuts grease, like Dawn. You do not want to do something like rub your eye while there is any pepper spray residue on your hand from wiping down dogs and dog paws.
Also, wear a hat yourself, your hair can pick up pepper spray residue on the air as fast as the dogs’ fur can.
You want to contain the clean up area to as small a space as possible as far away from the main living environment as you can, so try to keep your cleaning stuff in an entry or vestibule, a dog with pepper spray all over his or her coat and paws will spread it to walls and carpets pretty fast so you want to do this the second you enter the door to limit tracking anything inside with you.
Clean up also applies to you. If you are traveling through pepper spray soaked areas, wear shoes you are not in love with that you can afford to get rid of later. Take them off the second you enter the house. Wear loose outer garments that cover as much of your exposed skin as possible. Take those off when you enter the house or apartment and keep them hanging by the door so you yourself don’t infect the interior living environment. It doesn’t hurt to turn them inside out while you are not wearing them, to keep the pepper spray exposed outer side contained. Also, as I said above, wear a hat or bandanna or something over your own hair too. That limits exposure of your “fur” as well. I have no idea what men with beards do in this situation but that has to be awful because beards would accrue this too.
Always wash your hands a lot, and then your face and any exposed area of your skin after you are finished with the dogs and getting out of your outer garments and shoes. Ongoing exposure to pepper spray is not good for you and the skin is permeable and will absorb that crud.
Always use water as cold as possible because remember this stuff has an oily base and hot or warm water will spread the oil – which defeats the purpose if you’re trying to get the oily stuff off you, not spread it around.
On walks, make sure your dogs do not brush up against buildings or walls or bushes in the pepper spray zone. Those are all coated and will get more pepper spray on the dogs’ coats. That goes for you too. Try to touch as little as humanly possible and limit contact surfaces to the soles of feet and sidewalks.
Hope it helps. Woof!
*Where the art work comes from:
That is Dolph in Seattle wearing his shades because that’s how he rolled