Pooch poop banned from Abbotsford’s trash cans, but dog walkers say no alternative

Rules mean people should technically take home poop after they pick it up

Every courteous dog owner knows what to do when their pooch poops while out for a walk at a park. You grab a bag, pick up the specimen, and deposit it in the nearby garbage can.

Right?

Wrong.

Dog poop is actually banned from city garbage, meaning pet owners who use Abbotsford’s parks and off-leash areas should – under the letter of the law – be taking their poop home with them.

The issue was raised at a council meeting last month at which staff were asked how problematic pet waste in garbage was. Staff, council heard, are investigating how other jurisdictions are dealing with poop in parks. But parks general manager Heidi Enns said, “No one seems to have the magic formula.”

The fact that poop is banned from garbage was a surprise to dog owners watching – and cleaning up after – their pooches at the Clearbrook Park off-leash area last week.

Just outside the gate to the off-leash area, there is a bag dispenser. Six feet from that dispenser sits a garbage can, positioned so it can be reached by dog owners within the off-leash area. (At Mill Lake Park, the bag dispenser and garbage can are almost touching).

“If the city wants us to not throw our dog poop in the garbage, they need to provide another option,” George Shaver told The News.

Jim Gillespie agreed. He said the locations of the bags and garbage cans suggest the two services are linked. “That’s what it’s there for,” Gillespie said of the can.

Meg Morgan said taking poop home in her car wasn’t appealing and suggested the city install a composter in which owners could deposit their dog doo. And her husband, Bob, warned that telling people not to throw the poop in the garbage could deter them from picking it up at all.

“If you start doing it, most people will say, ‘To hell with it all.’ ”

The city has not launched a major campaign to rid all garbage of all poop. And other jurisdictions remain more focused on getting poop off the ground, rather than in the right receptacle.

The poop is banned because it poses a hazard to transfer station workers.

Metro Vancouver, though, has taken a forgiving approach in its public statements on dog poop. Its website, for instance, notes, “Pet waste is listed as prohibited from the region’s garbage, but small amounts are accepted preferably double-bagged and put in the next pick-up.”

Abbotsford, for its part, hasn’t campaigned against dog poop garbage, but it also hasn’t yet suggested that it’s OK for it to end up in the trash.

A city spokesperson cited Abbotsford’s “pet owner’s guide to managing waste,” which says poop can be buried or put in a pet waste composter, flushed down a toilet, or picked up by one of several companies which offer such services. Kitty litter – which shouldn’t be flushed – is picked up, provided it’s double-bagged.

In the meantime, technology may yet have a solution: several poop-composter systems were showcased at the recent Union of British Columbia Municipalities conference.

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