Dog Scouts scour trails to clean up what pet owners leave behind

Published on Thursday, 3 July 2014 18:35 - Written by Kelly Gooch kgooch@tylerpaper.com

With their canine pals by their side, members of Dog Scouts of America Troop 225 set out along the Rose Rudman Trail.

But it wasn’t primarily to exercise. Instead, it was to pick up something most people try to avoid — dog droppings.

The pups donned patriotic garb — including bandanas and a red, white and blue tutu — as they sniffed around and their owners stood by, ready to grab any waste that was found. Corki, a 7-year-old cocker spaniel, helped detect one of the first deposits picked up.

It was part of the troop’s effort to encourage residents to pick up after their pups. They have been coming to the park each Wednesday and scour a section of the park at a time. They stay out there about an hour and then usually take the dogs to Andy’s Frozen Custard afterward for “pup cones.”

Troop Leader Natalie Fletcher said the dogs typically aren’t dressed up, but this was a special occasion for the Fourth of July.

During the “poop patrol,” she said the troop gives a prize to people who have bags to pick up after their pets.

On Wednesday, she had a wagon filled with prizes, such as patriotic items, dog toys and coupons for Dairy Queen.

As far as why they decided to start going to the park to pick up dog waste, Ms. Fletcher said, “When you walk your dog, all of a sudden your dog will zip off of the sidewalk to sniff a poop, and poop attracts bugs. … And it’s unseemly if you step in it. That’s not fun.

Kathy Diamond, with Dog Scouts, said the troop is always looking for activities to do with their dogs and contributes to the community however it can. There’s also a Dog Scouts of America community service badge for cleaning up stray muck, Ms. Fletcher said.

Keep Tyler Beautiful Liaison Gary Lynch, with the Tyler Parks and Recreation Department, said everything started about eight months ago when troop member Diann Castle called him and asked about picking up poop in the park. He said he was told that since then, Dog Scouts has picked up an average of 30 to 50 bags each time.

“It’s been a really great program because one of the things they do is that they raise awareness of the thoughtlessness of people letting their dogs make a mess on the trails,” Lynch said.

He added, “The city does not have a law or ordinance against owners not picking up after their dogs. … We’d like to ask people instead of require them to do that and hope out of consideration that pet owners will be responsible and pick up after their pets.”

Ms. Fletcher said the park provides bags, which are located at Rose Rudman and South Tyler trails entrances, but people don’t necessarily know to use them.

And she said the bags that people use to pick up after their dog don’t have to be fancy. They could be grocery bags.

Tyler Parks and Recreation Director Stephanie Rollings said in a news release that she appreciates efforts that the troop has made.

“What a wonderful way to serve others,” she said in the news release. “We are very grateful to have a group like the Dog Scouts to do a job that few others would be willing to do.”

Although the group has been coming to the park each Wednesday, Ms. Fletcher said they might take a break due to the summer heat.