“Right now I don’t have any intentions on adding any more,” says Nina Johnston, Wilmington parks superintendent.
There are 44 dog waste stations in city parks, neighborhood parks and along downtown Riverwalk. Greenfield Park has at least four such stations near the parking area and along the walking trail ringing.
“Due to budgetary restrictions and the cost factor we don’t plan on adding any more, but we will retain the ones we have,” Johnston says.
The new pet waste law passed in September by the City Council goes into effect Nov. 1. Those who don’t comply face a $250 fine. Code enforcement officers will be watching for offenders, says Jennifer Butler, city stormwater education program coordinator.
“Anybody walking their pet has to fully and immediately clean up after their pet,” Butler says.
Pet owners must show a code enforcement officer a cleanup device if asked to do so. Dog waste must be placed in a closed trash receptacle or refuse container. A Cape Fear Public Utility Authority ordinance prohibits flushing pet waste down the toilet.
The new law applies to any public property in the city, including parks, trees, grassy areas, sidewalks, ditches and creek beds. The existing city ordinance only covers parks and has carries a fine of $100.
Code enforcement officers will first focus on education rather than enforcement of the new law. Repeat offenders will be cited.
“Their first task is to educate somebody and offer them a bag,” Butler says.
Butler and others tried an experiment on July weekends in Halyburton Park to gauge how responsibly pet owners were behaving. An initial sweep of trail and open areas in the park revealed 27 piles of pet waste. Flags were placed on top of each pile that carry a message urging pet owners to be good neighbors in the common interest of health, environment and clean shoes. “It’s the law and your doody,” the message on the flag proclaims.
By the last weekend in July, only seven piles of pet waste were found in the park. A code enforcement officer was present to educate pet owners throughout the month. The response was good and the “passive education” exercise will be repeated in October, Butler says.
“It’s hard to catch someone in the act,” she says.
Other city budget priorities make it difficult to build and maintain new pet waste stations, Johnston says.
“We can literally spend $35,000 on manpower and supplies on 44 waste stations. It’s nice that the city supplies this but people need to bring their own bags and be responsible.”
For more information about proper disposal of pet waste, go to www.wilmingtonnc.gov/publicservices/stormwater and click on the “Canines For Clean Water” section on the left side of the page.
Date posted: October 1, 2009
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