Getting tough on dog poop

Homer Animal Friends and Homer Parks &Rec want to get tough on dog poop. There are lots of dogs in the Homer area — a conservative estimate would be around 2,000. The average dog produces three-quarters of a pound of poop a day. That’s 1,500 pounds of poo per day equaling over 545,000 pounds of dog feces a year. That’s a lot of dog poop!

On Friday, April 14, a couple of us walked the more heavily used parts of the Spit Trail and painted piles of poop neon orange in an attempt to make people more aware of the problem. The next Friday, April 21, we walked the trail to do a thorough poop cleanup. We were more than a little surprised to discover that we were scooping as much fresh as there was marked poo.

To speculate on why people don’t clean up after their dogs:

1) They forgot to bring a poop bag.

• This one makes no sense because there are several locations along the Spit where you can get one for free.

• There are also free rolls of bags available at the HAF Store and Homer Dog Trainers, courtesy of Parks &Rec.

2) Don’t know how to use a poop bag and think it’s gross.

• Put your hand inside the bag.

• Pick up the pile.

• Reverse the bag and tie it up.

• Hand stays clean. Outside of bag is clean.

3) No place to discard of used bag.

• This one is harder. They’re right about that. (More on this later).

4) They think it’s natural and will decompose.

• Dog poo doesn’t decompose quite the same way horse or moose poop does because dog food has preservatives in it. Those same preservatives keep the feces from decomposing quickly — it could take up to a year for dog stuff to break down.

• The EPA rates dog poop as toxic as herbicides, pesticides, toxic chemicals, etc.

• It carries bacteria that seeps into our ground water.

5) They just don’t care.

• Responsible pet owners care about the ways their pets affect others.

• Piles of poo along trails, paths and sidewalks impact everyone who use them.

Homer Parks &Rec, Homer Animal Friends, Cook Inletkeeper and Homer Veterinary are investing in the purchase of dog waste stations to be placed around town and our walking trails. The City of Homer has also kicked in $500 to help us. Each station is on a post. Affixed to the post is a poop bag dispenser, a small garbage container for the used bags and signage encouraging people to pick up. Each station will cost approximately $200 to get here. The city tells us that they do not have the staff or dollars to maintain these stations.

We are asking individuals and businesses to contact us if they would like to purchase or adopt a station.

Let’s make sure that our next walk can be enjoyed without having to dodge piles of dog feces.