Mike Koozmin/The S.f. ExaminerDuboce Park is a popular place for pooches; but not everybody picks up after their pups; now

Campaign seeks to eliminate pet waste in dog parks

When doody calls, it’s time to find a waste bag.

That awareness of picking up after one’s pet is what a Peninsula-based pet waste removal company is hoping to encourage by taking part in a national campaign to distribute bags to dog parks, including those in San Francisco.

As part of its Doody-Free Water Project, which launched Tuesday, DoodyCalls is reaching out to communities to see if there’s a need for pet waste bags. DoodyCalls will then send free bags to the locations with the greatest demand, according to company spokesman Marc Samson. The campaign has 250,000 bags to share with parks across the country.

Rick Nava, who owns the Bay Area’s only DoodyCalls franchise, has been providing pet waste bags to local parks for seven years. He is now planning to reach out to park officials in The City about whether there’s a strong need for the bags in parks.

San Francisco doesn’t provide bags for pet waste at any of its 28 designated dog play areas, but pet owners are required to pick up after their pets, said Connie Chan, a spokeswoman for the Recreation and Park Department.

Stressing the need for proper cleanup, Samson noted dog waste contains bacteria and parasites that can be harmful to humans and their pets. Potential illnesses linked to pet waste include ringworm, brown worm, salmonella and E. coli, he said.

Another major problem is when the waste enters water systems, potentially affecting plant and animal life, Samson said.

For the most part, pet owners and dog walkers say they pick up after their pets in San Francisco, but many agreed that having additional bags available could encourage the stragglers.

Nearly every day, Chad Bank takes his 5-year-old mutt, Brody, to popular Duboce Park, where dogs are allowed to play off-leash in a portion of the park. He said he stuffs more than enough plastic bags into his pockets and often shares them with other dog owners.

“The regulars are pretty good at picking up after their dogs,” Bank said. “People who aren’t regulars don’t pick it up” as often, he added.

Ramona Lyons, who brings her 7-year-old Chihuahua mix, Oona, to the park about twice a week, said she too brings bags for waste and rarely sees pet owners fail to pick up after their pets.

“I think it’s more of a problem on neighborhood streets,” Lyons said.

Dog walker Melissa Burnley mainly brings dogs to the park on the weekends and buys waste bags “by the case.” She said it would be helpful if bags were provided consistently at parks, even though it’s possible some people might not take advantage of that generosity.

Submissions for the Doody-Free Water Project will be accepted through April. Company officials will then determine where there’s the greatest need for pet waste bags and divide the 250,000 free bags among those locations.

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