This photo submitted by Saanich News reader Anne Topp shows a pile of discarded poop bags in bushes on the north side of Vanalman Avenue just west of an industrial area. Submitted

Stuff hits the fan over discarded poop bags

Photo of discarded dog poop bags draws social media outrage

A Saanich woman was outraged when she came across numerous dog poop bags discarded in the bushes. And when Saanich News shared the woman’s photo on Facebook, she discovered she wasn’t alone.

Anne Topp discovered a pile of discarded dog poop bags in the bushes on the north side of Vanalman Avenue just west of an industrial area.

”It’s all about showing personal responsibility,” she said. “We are all complaining about paying taxes.”

It is not clear who tossed the blue poop bags in the bushes off a trail. “I have no idea,” said Topp, when asked about the source of the bags. “I was just so surprised to see it, because it was such a concentration.”

This incident is not the first of its kind involving disposable dog poop bags. Saanich last May pulled dog waste bags from local parks as a cost-saving measure. In April of 2017, a video camera recorded a person, who raided a disposable dog poop container, much to the shock of the public. Outside of Saanich, communities across different parts of the province have had to deal with the aftermath of cavalier attitudes towards dog poop.

In Langley, coaches and parents find themselves on poop patrol at local playing fields, which they say often appear covered in dog excrement. Residents in Surrey, Keremeos, and Salmon Arm also raised a stink about irresponsible dog owners. “I understand this is probably a very small percentage of dog walkers that are guilty,” wrote Ken Schroeder of Warfield in early 2018. “But you should definitely be ashamed of yourselves. It’s not the dog we’re disgusted with – it’s YOU.”

Topp, a frequent walker, said she often walks with friends with dogs, and they not only bring their own bags to clean up after their animals, but also carry them home for disposal.

According to Saanich’s animal bylaw, owners who do not clean up after their dogs face a fine of no less than $100. “[No] person shall deposit garbage on a street except in a litter bin,” according to Saanich’s streets and traffic bylaw, which says that individuals face a minimum fine of $100.

Others were quick to react when the Saanich News shared Topp’s photo on Facebook. “All the bags look the same,” wrote Colleen Clare on Facebook, where public comments almost unanimously condemned the individual or individuals responsible for the situation. “Probably the same lazy jerk who has been tossing bags all winter.”

Other commentators, meanwhile, wondered why anybody would bring along bags with which to pick up the feces of their dogs, only to toss filled bags into the bushes.

“What is the point of picking up after your dog if you are going to do this?” asked Jeany Souza-Shipley. “Give your head a shake, people!!!”

Caroline Mavridis wrote behaviour of this sort undermines responsible dog owners. “This is why we can’t have nice things,” said Julie-Ann Anderson. “Goodness that’s disrespectful for everyone else on the trails!”

Several commentators expressed the concern that such incidents could lead to the ban of dogs on public trails.

“Imagine a non-dog owner going for a hike!” wrote Charleen DeLong. “No wonder we are constantly fighting for our rights to have dogs on trails and beaches. It’s ours to take responsibility for.”

Reactions to Topp’s discovery also suggests that she did not uncover an isolated problem, as several commentators pointed out. Cavalier dog owners also appear to have left behind poop bags across Saanich and the region at large, including the Colquitz River Trail, the Swan Lake area, the Mount Douglas area, the Gordon Head neighbourhood, as well as Thetis Lake and East Sooke Park among other places.

But if commentators were largely critical, some of their comments also point toward the possibility that the responsible parties might have thought that the bags would naturally decompose. “People seem to think that collecting the poo in a biodegradable bag is equivalent to disposing of it,” said John Phillips. “Wrong.”

Glen Tunbull perhaps offered the most succinct recommendation. If you bag it ….drag it out! Or don’t walk your pooper where I hike. Please. Thank you.”

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