Seattle loves dogs – but doesn’t pick them up
With over one million dog owners in Seattle, the city consistently ranks among the most dog-friendly metropolises in the nation. But some annoying preoccupations accompany this love.
Among them: Seattle has been named the second-worst city in the nation for complaints about dog poop on Twitter, according to the Web Pet Insurance Company protect my paws. The company released the report in honor of International pooper scooper week at the beginning of this month.
The Tribute Week was added to the calendar by a trade association for professional pet waste workers and aims to ‘recognize a year-round problem’ by educating owners on the importance of cleaning after their dogs in a country with 71 million pet dogs producing approximately 4.4 billion pounds of waste annually.
The problem is regional, and other cities in Puget Sound have their own battles over it. Three years ago, Kirkland launched a campaign to encourage more residents to pick up their dogs’ feces by cataloging sites where uncollected pet waste has been found and marking them with flags.
Over a three-week period, the city documented more than 250 “discoveries” at Juanita Beach Park and Hazen Hills Park, and for a time hundreds of yellow flags dotted the green fields of the parks.
“The flags show that it’s not just your dog doing this,” Kirkland environmental education and awareness specialist Aaron Hussmann told The Seattle Times in 2019. “And it shows that someone is watching.”
In Seattle parks, the problem is persisting but not getting worse, despite what the city’s pet waste rankings may suggest, according to Rachel Schulkin, spokeswoman for Seattle Parks and Recreation.
“Is there occasional pooping?” Yes, but it hasn’t risen to the level of something that needs to be dealt with,” Schulkin said. She said picking up excrement, emptying trash cans and cleaning bathrooms was just part of the routine maintenance of the city park.
She acknowledges, however, that things might look a bit gloomier on sidewalks and parking lanes, where she sees evidence that people don’t pick up after their pets “all the time.”
From a city perspective, the biggest problem with dogs is the number running amok or playing on ball diamonds, playgrounds, and shorelines.
“Off-leash dogs are everywhere and it continues to be a major struggle for us,” said Schulkin.
Dogs should never go to ball diamonds, beaches, and playgrounds because even when owners clean up after them, fecal matter remains behind.
“Later in the afternoon there’s football practice and the kids are slipping on the pitch and it’s not OK,” she said. “People think they’re the only one doing it and they don’t.”
The city has over a dozen off-leash parks. Please use them, said Schulkin.