Spring is a popular time to get out and have a fun day with Fido. But many Tri-Citians aren’t picking up what their dog leaves behind.
Diane Dewar and her sister, Donna Sanders, come to the dog park at Badger Mountain Community Park in Richland nearly every day.
They not only collect the waste from their own 11/2-year-old Rottweiler, Sampson, they make a point of picking up after owners who aren’t as considerate.
“It’s a big problem, even though they have a sign posted,” Dewar, 64, said.
Sanders, 68, walks around the perimeter of the park, patrolling for dog doo. She collects waste in small bags, like those that are provided for park users. On Thursday, she filled a plastic grocery bag with the small bags and has filled several grocery bags on past days.
“You can’t even walk through here,” she said. “We don’t want to get it on our shoes, or the dog’s feet, so we pick it up.”
The Pasco women will sometimes talk to others who try to leave without picking up after their dogs, with limited success.
“A lot of times they ignore you and call you names,” Sanders said. “It’s just disgusting and I shouldn’t have to do it. But I feel compelled to.”
One local apartment complex recently took on the problem of pet waste in a new way. The Broadmoor Apartments in Pasco sent out notices to residents saying the “ongoing issue” forced them to require new residents to pay $39.95 to have a DNA sample taken from their dog, effective March 1.
Any waste found on the Broadmoor property will be analyzed by a company called PooPrints. Owners of guilty dogs will be charged fines starting at $100 and increasing to up to $300 for three or more violations.
Kathy Clapper, the regional manager overseeing Broadmoor for Prodigy Property Management, said the company has been “working through the details” of the program. Samples of dog doo are sent to PooPrints, which keeps them on file.
“Once their dog is on file with Poo Prints, if other communities decide to use the program and they move to such property, they do not have to have their dog re-tested as it is permanently on file,” Clapper said.
The new policy will be implemented for current residents as they renew their leases, she said.
Prodigy noticed a pet waste problem as soon as it took over management of the property, which had been owned by the late Robert Young, in February, Clapper said. Residents were complaining to office staff.
The company noticed an immediate improvement with the pet waste problem since it announced the program, she said. Staff has heard some complaints from pet owners, but positive feedback has far outweighed the negative.
“The main purpose for this program is to deter irresponsible dog owners from allowing their dog to roam the property unattended, and also to pick up after their dog as required in their pet agreement with Broadmoor,” Clapper said.
“It will also save time with our maintenance staff, who get left with the duty of picking up after someone else’s dog, as this problem diminishes,” she said.
Prodigy isn’t planning to implement the program at its other properties, but will if pet waste becomes a problem, she said.
PooPrints works with around 1,000 properties, and has taken cheek swabs for DNA from 35,000 pets, said Kevin Sharpton with California-based PooPrints West. The company mostly works with apartment complexes, but they have also heard interest from cities about possibly getting samples from all dogs in a town.
The program has reduced dog waste left on the ground by between 75 and 90 percent at properties, Sharpton said.
“Once you sign up everyone on the property, they now know that they are going to be held accountable,” he said.
Problems caused by dog waste include it being the No. 1 food source for rodents, as well as leading to environmental hazards and just being unsightly, according to a PooPrints presentation.
Many pet owners like the DNA sample program because their dogs are less likely to encounter waste from other animals, which can be a health hazard for dogs because it is contaminated with bacteria and other microbes.
PooPrints encourages apartments to take part in its program because it can lead to increased residential retention rates and be used as a selling point.
Dog waste can be an issue at all city parks in Richland, said Phil Pinard, the city’s parks and public facilities manager.
“It’s like everywhere you walk you see it,” he said. “We have it show up on our sports fields when kids are playing youth sports. That’s probably the least attractive.”
Users at Paws-abilities Place dog park are responsible for picking up their dogs’ waste, Pinard said. Most users come armed with dog bags or pick them up at stations at the parks, but those who don’t create noticeable problems.