Putting together dozens of dogs to socialize in a securely fenced-in space is the purpose of a dog park. The dog park at Ferguson Forest in Kemptville is top notch, offering a large area with a mix of trees and open space. There are few dog parks in the area that come close to its size or layout quality. One reality of putting many dogs in one closed in space, however, is that dogs poop – a lot.
Like most dog parks, waste bags are provided at various stations around the dog park for park users to take and use when their dog goes “number two”. For years, pet owners have been able to put their dog’s waste in a small garbage bin located underneath each bag dispenser. It was announced last week that this will no longer be the case. The Park contracts out the removal of pet waste, but the contract specifies the removal of pet waste only, not garbage such as coffee cups, which park users have been routinely bringing to the park and disposing of in the dog waste bins for years.
Social media activity as early as 2018 shows that this is not a new problem. What’s the fuss? Dog waste, while plentiful in a dog park, takes up relatively minimal space in trash bins. Coffee cups and other household garbage fill the bins much more quickly by comparison. In one instance in early 2022, an empty dog food cans box was placed in one of the on-site dog waste bins, effectively taking up all of the space in the bin. One other issue noted in a social media post is that the bags are difficult to remove from the bins for disposal in the winter months, particularly after a thaw and freeze.
The announcement on social media was met with mixed feedback. If anything, this issue demonstrates that over-reliance on social media as a means of communication can be problematic. Many Facebook users pointed out that warnings against placing household waste in the dog waste bins have only ever been posted on Facebook. Physical signs placed at each bin would have been guaranteed to reach the right people, but posts on social media only reached those who use Facebook and follow the Park’s page.
What now? Complimentary bags will still be provided to park users to clean up dog waste, but pet owners will now be expected to carry the waste around with them for the duration of their stay at the park, and dispose of it in a large waste bin in the parking lot before leaving. This is standard practice with dog parks in other areas, such as in Ottawa. Owners with larger dogs, multiple dogs, and dogs who engage in more “business” than others will inevitably find this difficult, particularly if they need use of their hands to help control their dog. An unfortunate possibility is that pet owners will now simply fail to pick up dog waste, or pick it up and leave the bags on the ground. Only time will tell if solving one problem has created a new one.