By Elizabeth Wilkerson -- email@example.com
WOODSTOCK -- Town officials are considering making dog owners responsible for picking up their pooch's poop if it's left on someone else's property.
The town's ordinance committee discussed a potential "pooper scooper" ordinance at its June 29 meeting. Councilwoman Alma Hottle, who chairs the panel, said the subject may be crude, but "when you walk down the street sometimes you definitely know exactly what they're saying."
Assistant town planner Angela Clem said town planner Brent Manuel had pulled ordinances from several localities. When evaluating the sample ordinances, she said, the committee should consider who enforces the regulations.
In Fairfax County, "the owner or custodian of any dog shall be responsible for the removal of excreta deposited by such dog on the property of another, including public places," the ordinance says, and the county's animal control and police officers enforce the regulations. In Warrenton, a similar ordinance is enforced by the county's animal warden.
Mayor Bill Moyers asked whether Shenandoah County, since it has an animal control officer, has such an ordinance. Town Manager Larry Bradford said he did not think so.
"Some people just walk them, stop, and let them do it," Councilwoman Jackie Lambert said.
Councilman Bill Pence said he has seen people take their dogs to fenced ball fields, put them in and let them do their business. Bradford said some dog owners are very good about dealing with their pets' droppings, but others are not, and "you have to deal with people who aren't."
Pence said the only problem with having a dog warden or animal control officer enforce the ordinance is that they often work typical weekday hours.
"I'm sure that all doggies don't doodie between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday," Pence said. Bradford said the county's animal control officer works all over the county and he did not "see them coming here."
The town could post signs in its parks to start educating dog owners, Bradford said. Clem said small waste containers or waste bag dispensers are often seen in public parks.
Bradford said the staff could develop a sample ordinance. In developing the draft, Moyers said, the staff should consult Police Chief Jerry Miller about its enforcement provisions.
"I think it's a shame we even need it," Lambert said. But, such an ordinance may make residents more aware of where their dogs are doing their business, Hottle said.
"They may be more careful than they normally are," she said.