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I’ve been stepping around this issue for years, and I think it’s probably time to speak out publicly. On behalf of thousands and thousands of neighbors, we delicately need to shovel our way through a serious problem that is impacting the lives of our children and creating a cottage industry that, well, might be the most brilliant I’ve ever discovered.
Let me apologize before we go any further. There’s an axiom in our business that goes something like this: “Don’t shoot the messenger.” Without question, I am going to get angry letters for my decision to address this issue. If it’s at all possible, please flush your minds as soon as possible.
Over at Travis Elementary, in the Woodland Heights area just north of I-10, a bout of the stomach bug has debilitated the student body. If you’ve kept up with the news, obviously you know this could be a case of the flu. Then again, this could be a case of the Max – as in Max the golden, glorious, bowel-challenged best friend of man.
The responsible folks at Travis decided they needed to find every possible cause of the illness, and at least one person there noticed a surplus of Max leave-behinds, if you will. Understanding the horrible publicity they might have received if they sent the kiddos out during recess with mini shovels and plastic sacks, the administration instead decided to hire a pro – someone who specializes in this type of work.
Did you know there was such a cottage industry? Until recently, I didn’t either. So I did a little research and found that not only is there an actual industry for cleaning pet waste, apparently these people all should be comedic business namers (if there is such a thing).
If it’s mild-mannered, wine-and-cheese kind of cleaners you want, look no further than the good folks at Scoop Le Poop. (Adding a French accent makes anything sound great, doesn’t it?) But that’s as mild as it gets. Just ask the folks who filed paperwork with the Secretary of State for their new business: Wholly Krap. It’s not going to get better, so you may want to skip to the next paragraph. I discovered businesses called Turds with Friends, Dung Shui, Call to Doody and Patty Melts. OK, OK… Maybe only three of those are real.
I got in touch with Sergio Rivera, the founder of Scoop Le, who was hired to do the heavy lifting over at Travis. He, in fact, confirmed a social media report that he walked away with six 15-gallon bags of, well, yeah.
I had a lot questions for Sergio, and he answered them all.
He got into the business when he was 10 or 11 years old – he can’t remember, and you can’t blame him. He says he didn’t like cutting grass, and discovered potential clients in the Heights would much rather have their yards de-fecaled than de-mowed.
He used his earnings to buy a motorcycle.
He became a professional, as in “I do this for a living,” after winning $300 in a poker game and taking a dare from one of his friends. That was 13 years ago and he has three employees (considering adding a fourth and fifth, if anyone’s interested). His website is www.scooplepoop.com, if you want to look him up.
He was on his way home from a “horse job” when I talked to him.
And last, unless it’s a horse job (and in the case of Travis Elementary), he threw the 90 gallons worth of, well, yeah, into a trash can because pet waste is not a fertilizer.
And that’s where we probably ought to take this laughing matter to a serious place, if that’s even possible at this point.
When you sign up to own a dog, you don’t just get the cute puppy that cuddles at your feet and licks your face. You get some responsibility, as well. Chief among those, it seems, is to clean up behind Max when he takes a walk.
I know what most people think: “Well, it’s just one little mess. It will wash away.”
How does it make you feel now, hearing the gross story about a school having to hire a professional cleaner to tote six plastic bags of Max’s feces away from a place where little children walk and run and roll in the grass?
In talking with Sergio earlier this week, he told me some frightening things about the impact of pet waste on people. For starters, the doo from dogs is not fertilizer and cannot be used as such. It doesn’t just melt away and sprout greener grass in the spring. Dogs have bacteria and acid in their stomachs, and when they digest food, the bacteria and acid escape with the waste. Horses are different – they eat grass and pass grass.
It’s not just the kids we should worry about, either. We’ve had quite a bit of rain lately. Want to know where the excrement goes when the rains come? Down – into storm drains and directly into our local waters.
We might have a laugh with Sergio Rivera about his work, but the next time you’re too lazy to lean over, maybe you should call him.