The City of Dieppe is trying new ways to tackle the old problem of getting dog owners to clean up after their pets.
The problem becomes obvious every year at this time, as snow melts and piles and discarded bags of dog poop are found on the city’s pathways and trails.
This year, the city is trying an environmental-awareness approach to the problem.
Nicole Melanson, coordinator of continuous improvement for the city, wants people to realize the seriousness of the issue.
“Right now I think we’re really going to concentrate on the environment” and the serious effects discarded dog feces can have on it, she said.
“People don’t realize that [the effects of] dog poop and human waste are the same. They need to be treated the same way and people don’t realize that.”
When people leave dog feces on or near trails such as the city’s Riverfront Trail, rainfall can cause toxins to seep into the nearby marsh and into the Petitcodiac River.
The city gave Dieppe residents the chance to have their say on the topic during a survey last month.
Melanson said 40 per cent of people who answered did not realize how bad dog waste was for the environment.
Respondents pointed to lazy dog owners, not enough education, not enough garbage containers, or forgetting to bring a waste bag as some of the reasons people don’t pick up after their pets.
Charles LeBlanc, foreman with the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation, noted that while he thinks most dog owners are responsible, city staff are finding waste all over the trail as the snow melts.
LeBlanc noted there are 15 garbage cans, with dog-waste bag dispensers, on a 10-kilometre stretch of trail.
“These dispensers are along the trail at every entrance,” he said.
“So there’s really no reason not to pick up a few bags, and if your dog does his business you should be able to walk out on any exit” and dispose of the bag properly.
LeBlanc said city staff does what’s known as a “poop run” weekly, picking up the waste from containers at the trail and at 40 other sites throughout the city. It’s then taken to the Eco360 Waste Management Facility for treatment.
One full garbage bag can contain 15 to 20 kilograms of waste per week, he said.
Melanson said the city is using social media to spread the message to pick up the waste, with an eye-catching meme showing a foot about to step in a pile of dog poop.
She said the city will use all of the information gathered to design a campaign, which she expects will be rolled out in September.
In the meantime, Melanson is urging dog owners to be respectful and hoping people get the message that dog waste is harmful.
“It’s a shared trail for everyone, for dog owners, non-dog owners, residents, kids, and older people,” she said.
“Pick it up.”