December 14th, 2019

Dog owners can help keep parks clean by picking up after pets

By Letter to the Editor on May 11, 2019.

Southern Alberta Group for Environment (SAGE) shares concerns regarding uncollected dog scat in the Oldman River valley (“Shoreline pollution a concern in city,” April 15). SAGE volunteers have participated in doggy doo-doo pick-up events to raise awareness of the problem among dog-walkers and inspire responsible behaviour.

In October 2017, 70 kilograms of poo was collected along 600 metres of trail and in May 2018, 18 kg of poo was collected along 350 metres of trail in the Scenic Drive Dog Park. That’s a lot of scat concentrated within 10 metres of the trail – and that wasn’t all of it! There was ample media coverage of the events, signage and flags marked each collection spot for several weeks, as a reminder.

Dog feces contain bacteria, protozoa, viruses and parasites that pose risk to the health of other pets, people and the environment. According to user statistics gathered by Parks in 2017, there are over 150,000 visits annually in three public dog parks in Lethbridge – Scenic Drive, Peenaquim and Popson. These popular dog parks are in the Oldman valley where there is potential for contaminated water to drain directly into the river during rainfall and snowmelt events.

Most dog park users pick up after their pets given that there are signs directing them to do so, and bags and waste receptacles are available. Dogs can be trained to do their business under an owner’s watchful eye at the start of a walk. Understandably a dog owner will occasionally miss catching their dog in the act. However, the large amount of accumulating scat leads us to conclude that some dog owners either don’t understand that it is the law to remove your dog’s defecates from public property or don’t care.

Visits to the Scenic Drive Dog Park this spring indicate poop pick-up is again needed. Before putting more volunteer effort into this unpleasant task, SAGE is seeking information about effectiveness of such events in shifting behaviours and about enforcement effort by Lethbridge Animal Services bylaw officers in our dog parks.

We are also researching what other communities have done. For example, dog parks have been shut down in Denver, Boise, Chicago and Seattle because of water contamination concerns.

Dog owners in Lethbridge are fortunate to have scenic areas of public parkland designated for off-leash exercising of their pets. Our challenge as a community is to find a pet-friendly and environmentally friendly solution to the problem through widespread understanding and enforcement of the need to scoop the poop.

Cheryl Bradley

Secretary, SAGE


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7 Responses to “Dog owners can help keep parks clean by picking up after pets”

  1. prairiebreze says:

    40% of dog owners don’t pick up after their dog! A medium size dog produces 250 pounds of sh*t a year! Reality Check …Dogs are a luxury item, NOT a ‘must have’ unless you’re blind or have some ‘special needs’. Given the close quarters we share in an urban setting indulging oneself in a dog comes with responsibility which many dog owners seem to ignore. There is nothing more disgusting than seeing dog sh*t on the lawn or park or more disturbing & anger making than hearing someones mutt barking. Best solution would be for City to make mandatory a DNA test for every dog when licence is purchased. That way if feces are found, its taken to a lab, analyzed and the deadbeat owner gets a good hefty fine. Communities are using this and its working.

    • phlushie says:

      Yeh, another revenue stream for the “City” to explore and another duty for the “Red Shirts”. This could re[lace the photo radar revenue stream.

  2. biff says:

    that this is even an issue…we remain so selfish and pathetic.

    • Fescue says:

      I agree biff.

      SAGE should be commended for its volunteer efforts to keep our environment and community healthy – picking up after other people’s dogs is probably not a highlight.

  3. biff says:

    is it not odd, fes and pr.breeze, that there will be those that need be critical of others that perform good works.

    • Fescue says:

      It’s funny you say that, biff, as I’ve been anticipating such a response from the Crabby Bunch.

      Keep up the good fight, biff.

  4. biff says:

    and you as well, fes. always a pleasure to read your entries, which help me to remain hopeful.