Poogooder: Daily Near-Miss with Dog Poo Inspires Innovative Community Program
Seattle consistently ranks among America’s most dog-friendly metros, a welcome development for those of us who call the Emerald City home.
Overflowing apartment poo bin, Seattle. Photo by Jen Swanson.
But there’s a downside to Seattle’s transformation into a bona fide dog town. According to a new national survey, Seattle has also earned a less flattering nickname: America’s Dog Poop Capital.
One local resident, Lori Kothe, isn’t surprised by Seattle’s unfortunate nom de guerre, which was based on an analysis of Twitter data by the Dog Advisory Council.
According to Kothe, she’s been almost stepping in dog poop every day since her daughter began attending Alki Elementary in West Seattle.
“Back when she started kindergarten, I was shocked to discover the massive ‘“wayward’” dog-poo issue around Alki Elementary and the beach,” Kothe told the West Seattle Blog. “Dog poo was everywhere, and we were always at risk of stepping in some.”
The issue was so pervasive that she began making notes each time she found wayward poo on the path between her car, Alki beach, and her daughter’s school in the mornings. Kothe also spoke with fellow residents (both with and without dogs) to see if they’d noticed the growing scourge of un-scooped dog feces.
“And EVERYONE had a poo story,” said Kothe. “I did research. Dog=poo wars are no joke — they cause crazy levels of neighborhood angst, pollute waterways and soil, spread disease, and ruin a person’s day if they step in some.”
Kothe could see the problem was fueled in part by the city’s shortage of dog waste bins, which had failed to keep pace with Seattle’s soaring pet population.
Seattle’s dog waste bins — if you can even find one — are often overflowing with pet waste, leaving dog walkers in the position of carrying a steaming bag of poo or quietly leaving it on the ground. Others toss poop bags into neighbors’ yards or trash cans on the way back home, which obviously doesn’t do much for community relations.
This growing dilemma led Kothe to found Poogooder, a grassroots movement to provide community dog waste bins around West Seattle. Like Little Free Libraries, the program partners with volunteers who agree to install and maintain PoogGooder’s dog waste bins in front of their house, where passing dog walkers are invited to take a doggie bag and dispose of it, too.
Poogooder Bin. West Seattle. Photo by Kallie Sims.
When bins are full, volunteers dump them into their own garbage, making it easier for dog owners to clean up after their pets, reduce wayward poo, and ease the thorny of issue of throwing dog poop into somebody else’s trash.
Poogooder also seeks to address some misconceptions about dog poo, including the myth that doo poo makes good fertilizer, or that it belongs in the “Food & Yard Waste” bin. Kothe would like to help the city create a pet waste compost program, because Seattle’s compost facilities aren’t currently equipped to handle dog poo, even if it’s in a compostable bag.
To date, Poogooder operates around 100 community bins around West Seattle, all of which serve an important community need in America’s Dog Poop Capital. Someday, Kothe hopes to bring Poogooder to other parts of the city, but for now, this volunteer-funded organization doesn’t have the means to expand to other neighborhoods, no matter how much Seattle may need it.
Written by Jen Swanson
Edited by Kallie Sims