For many communities that allow pets, wayward dog waste left along walking paths and across open recreation areas is a common problem. In fact, pet waste is one of the single most talked about issues in homeowner association and community manager board meetings across the country. If not addressed, the presence of unattended dog waste in a community can quickly become a major point of conflict amongst neighbors.
While there are a number of methods for reducing pet waste in communities, the introduction of pet waste stations is the most effective way to make an immediate impact. Comprised of a bag dispenser, waste bin and sign, pet waste stations help pet owners to do the right thing and also communicate your position on waste cleanup to pet owners and non-pet owning residents alike.
When getting started with stations in your community, selecting effective locations is paramount. The ultimate goal is to make it easy for dog walkers to pick up a bag at the beginning of their walk and easy for them to dispose of it by the end.
To identify prime real estate for your stations, first consider the density of homes in the community and areas where dog owners tend to congregate, play or walk. Once potential station sites are identified on a map, the next step is to walk the property as a dog walker would to see if the proposed sites make sense on the ground from their perspective.
In a nutshell, you are looking for areas that are convenient for dog owners while having a low impact on nearby homeowners or amenity users. For instance, there may be a site that is perfect for dog owners, but happens to be located next to a community playground or within a homeowners immediate line of sight from their front door, bay window or patio. In cases like these, placing a station in such an area could lead to otherwise avoidable conflict.
Many suburban communities are designed as a loop. Dog owners in these communities tend to follow the circular path when walking their pet. If this is the case in your community, you should try to place stations at the beginning/end of the community loop, as well as at convenient intervals throughout. Again, the key is to make sure there there is always a place to pick up and drop off poop bags within a few minutes walking time. If stations are sparse and scattered throughout your community, pet owners will be less likely to go the extra mile to use the provided equipment, leaving the waste on the ground instead.
Finally, it is best to place stations along sidewalks and on both sides of the street, and stations should be positioned far enough off the sidewalk to allow foot traffic to continue moving while dog walkers stop to deposit bags of waste. Remember: not everyone is comfortable interacting with dogs, so placing stations slightly offset from the sidewalk helps to minimize unwanted interactions. In addition, consider adding stepping-stones to prevent grass from wearing down and turning into a mud pit. This small landscaping upgrade can greatly improve the functionality and aesthetics of your stations.
When selecting station types, keep in mind that your community does not necessarily need to commit to only one style; in fact, many dont. For the most part, stations are not located next to one another, which means that uniformity does not have a considerable impact. What really matters is that your community has well-stocked, durable stations that fulfill the needs of residents, are properly serviced, and are in good working order for dog walkers to use every day.
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