Another beautiful day in the Truckee Meadows!
Another beautiful day in the Truckee Meadows!

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“It’s Up to You to Pick it Up”

Why it's important for pet owners to take responsibility for picking up after their pets  

A growing number of dog owners who are choosing not to pick up after their pets is raising concerns about the potential health threats to pets and people, especially children, who use local parks, waterways and other public places.

Parks, public health and animal services officials from Reno, Sparks and Washoe County are united in their concern about the rising problem with irresponsible dog owners.

“We are on a dangerous course,” Acting Washoe County Regional Parks and Open Space Director Al Rogers said. “We are also a community that loves our dogs and we’re hoping to get a message out to all dog owners that it’s their responsibility to help keep this a community we can all safely enjoy.”

The key points to that message are:                        

  • Dog waste is a danger to the health and safety of other pets and people, especially children
  • Improperly disposed of dog feces may be hazardous to the environment and waterways
  • Growing amounts of dog waste is destroying the beauty of our special places
  • County code requires owners to pick up after their pets.
  • It is the pet owner’s responsibility to supply their own bags or containers, and to use them.   

“The dogs are not the problem,” Reno Parks, Recreation and Community Services Director Julee Conway said. “Most of our dog owners are responsible and as frustrated as we are with the increasing amount of dog waste left behind in our parks and on our trails. That’s why it’s important for us to unite our voices and get the word out that there are consequences, serious consequences for not picking up after your dog.”

“It has been estimated that a single gram of dog feces can contain a bacteria count as high as 23 million,” Scott Strickler, and Environmental Health Specialist with the Washoe County District Health Department said. “The growing amount of dog feces carelessly left in our parks poses a significant health risk to our environment, especially to other pets and people.”

“We are particularly concerned about children being more susceptible because they often play in the dirt and put things in their mouths or eyes,” Strickler said.

“When a person takes ownership of a pet, they take responsibility for that pet,” Sparks Parks and Recreation Director Tracy Domingues said. “This responsibility includes caring for the health and welfare of the animal, but also requires owners to take responsibility for the health and welfare of the community as a whole.

“Most dog owners understand this. We are hoping that all will.”

And it’s the law.

“Washoe County Code requires dog walkers to carry a suitable instrument for the removal and disposal of dog feces, and to remove it immediately,” Lieutenant Bobby Smith, Field Supervisor for Washoe County’s Regional Animal Services said.   

The code also mandates that dog owners have an “absolute duty” to keep dogs leashed in congested areas of the County, including public parks, unless otherwise designated.

“Often, failure to leash a dog and failure to pick up after them go hand-in-hand,” Lt. Smith said. “Each of us have to take personal responsibility, as good dog owners and good citizens, to follow the County Code and create a safer environment for all who live and recreate in our community.”

Christi Cakiroglu of Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful said dog owners should also consider the long-term benefits of taking responsibility for their pets today.

“It sets a good example for our kids,” Cakiroglu said. “And through our example we can help create future generations that will do their part to help keep our community beautiful and healthy.”

 Use this link to read the Reno Gazette-Journal article:
"Local Officials step into Dog Waste Problem"

Use this link to read the Daily Sparks Tribune article:
"The Scoop on Dog Poop"

Use this link to read a report about animal waste and disease from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health

 Use this link to read the Washoe County Code mandates for Animal Waste Disposal  

Use this link to read how you can be part of the solution by sponsoring mutt mitts for Reno, Sparks or Washoe County