A pair of young Oak Bay brothers hope a poop patrol will inspire others to clean up after their pups.
Henry Mepham, 9 and George Mepham, 7, joined their mom Tracey Voll in a stroll through Uplands Park with shovels and buckets after noticing a disturbing amount of droppings left behind.
“You go to Uplands it’s kind of a refuge,” Voll says. “We might lose that because of this dog health issue and it’s the only place we can go other than the UVic dog park.”
The family takes their own dog to Uplands once Willows Park Beach is closed for the summer to the four-legged family member. That’s a closure they understand.
“If you go down to Willows when there are dogs there’s poo everywhere,” Voll says.
While accidents happen, and she believes in “dog kharma” where you pick up an extra now and again in case there’s one you miss, the Uplands deposits are simply too much, Voll says.
“It’s not just an ‘oops.’ It’s people letting their dogs poo and then leaving and it’s buckets full of poo, it’s disgusting,” says Voll. She, Henry and George scooped up 10 kg in a 30 minute walk last week. “It’s disgusting, but if you frame it to kids that ‘we’re going to explore and we’re doing something good for the community, they embrace it.”
Despite the patrol two days earlier, they had no problem finding more piles for a photo op Friday morning at another entrance to the park.
“Pet waste is the responsibility of the pet owner,” said Chris Hyde-Lay, manager, Parks Services for Oak Bay. “It is an issue. People should clean up after their pets, it’s the owner’s responsibility.”
Oak Bay’s animal bylaws prescribe a $50 fine – and signs remind dog walkers outside Uplands entrances – but realistically, animal control would need to see the infraction to fine.
“Most people get it but there’s some that just don’t,” Hyde-Lay says, noting that Uplands is off leash this time of year, so some pups rush off and do their business. “It’s just your responsibility.”
Oak Bay does not provide poop bags at any of its parks, but expects owners to bring their own.
“Some municipalities are moving away from [providing bags] and once again putting the onus on the dog owner. Having dog bags are inexpensive and it’s part of being a good owner having those bags with you at all times,” Hyde-Lay says. “If you own a dog, there are responsibilities that go along with it.”
The Oak Bay Dog Control Bylaw requires all dog owners to obtain a license for pets and a “poop and scoop” law is in effect throughout the municipality.
“I would encourage people to familiarize themselves with the bylaw,” Hyde-Lay says.
Voll is happy to teach her kids a little more responsibility, and their building on their respect for the park started with hands-on school programming at Willows elementary. She hopes others will take up the cause, or claim responsibility before dogs get the blame.
“Having dogs in the neighbourhood is awesome,” she says. “It’s a really vibrant community once you get into it.”