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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nearly 25 pounds of dog poop is collected weekly from Downtown Springfield’s Park Central Square, Jubilee Park and surrounding public parking lots. That equates to almost three, 5-gallon buckets, costing the City of Springfield an estimated $7,500 per year to manage.
Pet waste issues are piling up as downtown Springfield continues its momentum attracting visitors and residents through new businesses, special events and apartment dwellings.
Following increasing complaints to the City and Downtown Community Improvement District (CID), the City is tackling the problem with a new awareness campaign aimed at encouraging the public to scoop their pet’s poop.
“Many people don’t realize that what their dog is leaving behind is essentially raw sewage,” explains Carrie Lamb, Springfield Environmental Services Water Quality Compliance Officer. “Pet waste is not part of the natural ecosystem and actually contains pollutants that are harmful to our waterways. It’s not fertilizer. It’s not compostable. It belongs in the trash.”
Pet waste is usually cleaned up on a bi-weekly and as-needed basis by Springfield Public Works staff and by contract workers through the Downtown CID. Along with providing informational signage, the City and CID partner to provide pet waste bags at 15 dispensers strategically located throughout the downtown footprint. Despite these efforts, people are still leaving it where it falls.
“Pet waste is currently listed in our city code as unlawful to contribute to our waterways, however, this type of thing is very challenging to enforce,” explains Lamb. “We think it’s important to use education to create awareness to encourage the community to change their habits and do the right thing.”
Beginning in mid-summer, lighted message boards, typically used to relay road closure information, were placed in Park Central Square and nearby areas. The boards relay catchy reminders like “Keep it classy, pick up after Lassie” and “Scooby Dooby Doo, pick up your poo.”
The messaging blitz was followed up this week by the appearance of small flags
“As our team brainstormed ways to bring attention to the problem, we landed on the idea of literally flagging the piles,” says Kristen Milam, Communication Coordinator. “They create a striking visual when seen spread all over the square and the funny sayings keep everything positive and share-worthy.”
Sayings like “Pick up the poo. Yep, that’s right, you,” “Do you even care? Not in the Square!” and “Drop in the trash, not in the grass,” are displayed on the flags along with the hashtag #scoopthepoop.
The goal of the “poo flagging” is to bring awareness to the increasing amount of pet waste being left behind by irresponsible pet owners and to educate the public on the impact it has on area businesses, public health, water quality and the overall quality of life downtown.
The City hopes to spur community discussions among downtown businesses and stakeholders on how to continue to address the issue. A stakeholder meeting is planned in late October.
For more information on pet waste and #scoopthepoop, visit www.springfieldmo.gov/scoopthepoop
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For more information, contact Communication Coordinator Kristen Milam at 573-819-3713 or [email protected].