Virginia Cornell sues neighbor over dog poop

(Photo: Flickr/Parker Yo)

What started as a routine trip the bathroom for a 3-year-old dog in a Fairfax neighborhood turned into a messy, 7-month long criminal court case.

The subsequent fight over the excrement, remarkably, landed in a Fairfax court Tuesday, when a jury found the caretaker of the dog not guilty.

The tale started when Virginia Cornell witnessed her neighbor, Kimberly Zakrzewski, let her friend's 19-pound dog poop on the lawn at an apartment complex off Route 50 in Fairfax. Cornell filed a complaint under the city's "pooper scooper law."

Accused dog walker Kimberly Zakrzewski was charged with a misdemeanor.

“I did pick up after him,” Zakrzewski said.

In the day-long jury trial, the neighbors who complained described reaching the lawn moments after Baxter did his deed. They showed pictures of what they claimed to be the dog’s poop.

"She was letting the dog poop on purpose because she knew it annoyed us," Cornell said.

In court, several witnesses took the stand to describe Baxter's waste. At one point, the judge jokingly asked the dog's owner, Michelle Berman, if she brought any of the poop with her.

Berman gave a less than joking answer: "My dog went to the bathroom this morning, and i brought it."

"It has been humiliating," Zakrzewski said, likening the lawsuit to harassment.

Several apartment complexes in the area have gone to great lengths to identify dog owners who leave their pets’ poop unscooped, even signing up for services that can identify the poop's origin through DNA matching.