Get Involved: Poo Free Parks

November 12 2012, 11:10 AM

If you have dogs, arriving home after a long workday to an antsy pet probably sounds like a familiar story. You likely venture to one of Denver's many dog-friendly parks to soak up some sunshine, breathe in fresh mountain air, and let your four-legged friend stretch his or her legs. Only one thing could make this otherwise enjoyable afternoon routine start to stink: sinking your foot into a fresh pile of dog poo.

Bill Airy, founder and CEO of Poo Free Parks, has found a solution for such a droppings debacle. His company makes biodegradable doggie waste bags and recyclable dispensers available in parks, open spaces, and trails—for free. In a partnership between public and private property owners, sponsors pay a monthly fee to cover supplies and maintenance; in exchange, they can attach signage to a clean-up station. These advertisers—like Unleashed, Petco's new boutique pet food shop—take the financial burden away from municipalities.

Poo Free Parks uses an iPhone app to track and monitor stations' usage. Reports indicate that 4.6 million biodegradable bags have been used at participating parks since 2008, when the program started in Glendale. Since then it has expanded to St. Louis, Oregon, and Chicago. In August, the organization added 200 stations to the Highlands Ranch area, making it the ninth community in the Denver metro area to participate in the program.

Airy—sometimes referred to as "the entrepooneur"— reminds pet owners that it is always their responsibility to pick up after their dogs. "In some communities, people are under the false impression that it's fertilizer and it's good for the soil," he says. "Denver Health did a study on the water in the Platte River and found that E. coli levels were so high that it was actually dangerous to swim. They found over 700 piles of dog poop in Commons Park, and if it rains or snows, all that drains into the river. Our service gives people and businesses the opportunity to do something good for the community and for the environment."

Get Involved: To remind people of their roles and responsibilities as pet owners, Airy and the rest of the Poo Free Parks team will host "Poo Free Parks Cleanup Day," on Saturday, November 24 from 10 a.m. til 2 p.m. at the off-leash area in Cherry Creek State Park. Colorado Parks and Wildlife passes are required for entrance. Find out more—or sign a petition in support of the company—at poofreeparks.com.

—Image courtesy of Poo Free Parks