With the melting snow, piles of unsightly dog poop are being revealed and St. Albert has had enough. The city is giving its peace officers the green light to crack down on irresponsible pet owners over the next month.
“April 1, the City of St. Albert has a zero tolerance dog park campaign,” explained Shannon Rutland, a peace officer tasked with patrolling the areas frequented by dogs.
“‘Pick up or pay up’ is what our campaign is. We’re striving for responsible pet ownership.”
For months, officers have been giving owners warnings, using public education as a tool to change behaviours. But starting Monday, owners caught not picking up after their pets will be fined $250. That ticket is the most expensive in the Edmonton area for that type of offence.
“There are safety risks with having excessive poop leftover — with parasites — and other dogs like to roll in it,” Rutland said.
“Most St. Albert residents are really good and really responsible. But we have a few that are not picking up after their animal and over time, it does accumulate in the parks.”
Greg Leonard walks his dog Rex in the Lacombe Lake Dog Park regularly.
“There’s way too much poo. That’s because people come down here in late fall, early winter. They don’t pick up after their dogs, then the snow comes. By the time spring rolls around, you’ve really got a real mess on your hands down here,” Leonard said.
But St. Albert doesn’t stop there. Peace officers can also ask to see your dog poop bags. If you are caught without one, you can be fined $80.
“When you don’t carry a bag, you don’t have the means to pick up, so it promotes the problem,” Rutland said.
“People make mistakes,” Leonard countered. “Usually, I’ve got a roll of bags in my vehicle, but I will admit I’ve come down here at times and you just forget to bring them. Usually, most people here are more than willing to lend you a couple bags. So I think that one might be a little excessive but I understand the reasoning behind it.”
He had to pick up after Rex twice in the span of his walk.
The issue of pet owners failing to scoop up isn’t unique to St. Albert.
In Edmonton, not picking up poop will set you back $100. It’s the same in Strathcona County and Spruce Grove, but their fines increase for second or third offences. Fort Saskatchewan charges $150 the first time you’re caught and $300 thereafter.
Beaumont, like St. Albert, charges owners $250 per poop.
“When people see it’s a fine and it hurts the pocketbook, they take it a little more seriously,” Rutland said.
If you only bring one bag and you end up using it, she recommends finding another bag from a dispenser at the entrance to the dog parks to ensure you don’t get a ticket for being empty handed.