Spring cleanup a success for dog community
Saturday, May 14, was a gorgeous spring day in Steamboat Springs. Most people rode their bikes along the Yampa River Core Trail, and walked downtown, finding ways to enjoy the sunshine.
But for some people in the community, doody called and they answered.
“Our whole emphasis is to engage the community” said Kathy Connell, president of Steamboat Digs Dogs, a local nonprofit that hosted Community Poop Cleanup Day. Recently, the Routt County Humane Society partnered with Steamboat Digs Dogs in hosting the cleanup.
Steamboat Digs Dogs has hosted community poop cleanup days since 2017, when there were an estimated 5,000 dogs in town. Connell and her group estimates that number is much higher now, especially after the pandemic, which motivated a lot of people to adopt dogs.
Cleaning dog waste is important in the spring. Winters usually yield a lot of dog waste as people are reluctant to traverse off-trail through deep snow to pick up after their dogs, As the snow melts, dog waste will mix in with the runoff and end up in the town’s waterways.
Buckets in one hand and bags in the other, volunteers broke off into groups and scoured the off-leash areas Steamboat Digs Dogs worked with the city to establish. They also covered other areas such as the Emerald Mountain Trail Network, which yielded some of the heaviest bags of the event.
In addition to all their other efforts, Steamboat Digs Dogs also supplied the town with 31 dispensers of biodegradable bags that are restocked on an ongoing basis. The dispensers are paid for through sponsorships. Anybody can pay $500 to have a picture of their dog placed on one of the dispensers.
The first cleanup day back in 2017, Connell and her team collected about 800 pounds of dog waste.
“We had a backhoe that had to lift it up,” Connell said.
This year, despite more dogs in town than ever, they only collected about 50 pounds and were able to toss the bags into the trash simply by hand.
Rita Valentine Dog Park, on the other hand, was slim pickings for the volunteers. They had an earlier cleanup effort at the end of winter that left very little scat in the park even over a month later.
Connell and her team said they find less dog waste each year, partly because of their efforts but also because members of the community have taken more responsibility for cleaning up after their pets.
The event ended at the Routt County Humane Society, where the volunteers were thanked with offerings of pizza, soda and Coors Light. Everyone gathered around the bags of poop and took photos. The volunteers’ dogs, meanwhile, intermingled thanklessly without any idea how much work it takes to keep them as pets. But those dogs are loved all the same; a special love that united a community of people who give a turd.
To reach Spencer Powell, call 970-871-4229 or email him at spowell@SteamboatPilot.com
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