Encourage People to Clean Up After Pets

Millions of people across the country own dogs, and many of them are likely coming to your parks and trails with their canine friends. Dog waste can be a big problem when people don't clean up, but you can make it easier by providing the right solution to make parks and trails more pet- and people-friendly.

Q: We get plenty of dog owners visiting our park, but some of them don't clean up after their pets. What should we do?

A: You can help by placing pet stations in convenient locations. These stations will give people what they need to clean up after their dogs, keeping your park free of waste. Signage helps to provide a visual cue, reminding dog owners that it's their responsibility to help keep the park clean.

In addition, be sure your park rules are posted in a highly visible location, such as the entrance. Rules associated with pets should be included, reminding owners to keep their pets leashed and to clean up any mess. Uniformed staff members should also patrol the park on a regular basis, which will let pet owners know that you're keeping an eye on things. Be sure staff knows to intervene and remind visitors of the rules if they see someone leaving waste behind.

Q: We want to be sure our park is safe. What can we tell pet owners about the safety hazards of leaving waste behind?

A: Dog waste is not just a smelly, unsightly nuisance. Pet waste can also pose a safety hazard. Dog droppings can contain dangerous bacteria as well as viruses that can get into groundwater. Even when the bacteria doesn't reach the water supply, dog waste poses a health hazard for people and pets who come into contact with it when they play at your site.

Let dog owners know about these issues. Also, remind them that most communities have ordinances that require them to clean up, and if they do not comply, they might face a fine.