The City wants the scoop on how to get citizens to pick up their dog’s poop, so their daily walk doesn’t turn into a $500 fine

This story also appeared in LiveWire Calgary

The city is gathering citizen feedback and ideas on responsible pet ownership, with a highlight on dog waste removal. The survey also requests input into potential marketing messages that could help encourage owners to pick up after their pets. 

The survey closes on July 26.

Calgary has more than 150 off-leash areas, offering citizens the opportunity to exercise their dogs while making social connections. However, these green spaces are not always respected throughout the city. The City of Calgary receives many complaints every year about conflicts between dogs, citizens and wildlife, bylaw violations, animal welfare and most of all, dog waste. 

“We’re fairly aware of what the issues, concerns or opportunities are within our off-leash areas and within our green spaces as a larger whole with regards to dogs,” said Anna Blaxley, spokesperson for Parks & Open Spaces.

So far, the survey has received nearly 3,100 responses. When the survey ends, Parks and Open Spaces will deliver a report that city admin can use to take further action. 

Blaxley said that this survey is just the first step in a longer strategic plan within the parks department to gather data and make plans to address citizen concerns and suggestions. 

“The important thing for us is to get that baseline so that we can measure anything we do going forward to make sure that we are having an impact and that we are being responsible using taxpayer funds for any sort of future pilot project projects or initiatives,” said Blaxley. 

The significance of proper dog waste removal

Colin Wright, dog owner and a frequent visitor to the Rotary Park Off Leash Dog Park said that the park he and his dog frequent has responsible pet owners that pick up after their pooches. However, he’s no stranger to coming across dog waste within other public spaces. 

“It’s frustrating…part of the responsibility of [owning a dog] is cleaning up after them,” he said.

“So when people aren’t doing that, it’s frustrating because that waste could end up on you, you could end up stepping in it.”

 The survey collects an array of information, however, it highlights the concern about picking up after dogs in public spaces. Anna Blaxley said that the average dog produces approximately half a pound to a pound of waste a day. In Calgary, there are approximately 92,000 registered dogs. Every day, there are approximately 92,000 pounds of dog waste produced in the City of Calgary alone. 

Blaxley further explained that not picking up dog waste can have large negative ecological impacts on the environment. Potential negative impacts can include attracting predators, especially coyotes, transmitting diseases to wildlife and humans, polluting water systems and contaminating plants. For this reason, the parks department at the City of Calgary wanted a survey that focused on dog waste. 

To further encourage the removal of dog waste, the City of Calgary enforces bylaws that require owners to have the means necessary to pick up after their pets and to follow through with the removal. 

“There is a bylaw where you are supposed to have the means to pick up after your dog so technically you can be fined for not having a bag and not picking after your dog and each of those comes with a fine of up to $250,” Blaxley said.

“It could be a $500 walk every time you go out and you don’t pick up after your dog.” 

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Isabella West is a fourth-year Journalism student at MRU. She completed her work term over the summer of 2023 at LiveWire Calgary in partnership with the Calgary Journal.