It's a dog's life, but not at St. John's College in Annapolis.
Worried that dogs and cats have left their tell-tale marks beneath every tree, college administrators have decided to ban all pets from the campus.
Jeffrey A. Bishop, vice president of the small liberal arts college, said he's tired of cleaning off his shoes every time he walks between the red brick buildings. He said the administration decided to take action only after repeatedly urging pet owners to scoop up the smelly droppings.
"For the past few months, we've asked those peoplewho walk their dogs on campus to kindly either pick up after their pets or go to more remote areas," he said. "They've done neither, and the campus is just a mess."
St. John's officials released an open letter Friday, the first day of spring, warning "our canine and feline friends" that they could no longer romp with students beneath the spreading oak trees.
"Spring is here, and with it come many students and citizens of Annapolis who lounge on the lawns, play croquet, softball, touch football, or simply walk barefoot on the lawns," Bishopwrote in the letter.
Several St. John's students, who said they enjoy playing catch with the neighborhood dogs on warm days, were baffled by the ban.
Asked whether there was a problem with dog droppings on campus, Phil Gochenour, a 26-year-old graduate student in the Great Books curriculum, laughed.
"Not that I know of," he said. "Dog doo is not a major factor in my life at this point."
Other students said they've learned to step gingerly across the open lawns. But most agreed that the problem was limited to a couple of dogs running loose.
"I haven't had a problem with it," said Amy Parton, a 21-year-old senior at the college. "I think there are two dogs in particular that run around here a lot, maybe that's what led to it."
Concerned about the health of children who often play on the lawns at St. John's, the downtown civic association has agreed to support the ban.
"It has become a fairly serious problem now with contamination," said John Prehn, president of the Ward One Residents Association. "I suspect a lot of people will welcome the news."
Bishop said the college, which is known for its liberal views, regretted being forced to ban pets on its campus. But he said the likelihood of diseases spreading from the feces forced the administration to take action.