Derby dog owners may be asked to pick up after pets

07/06/2013 4:13 PM

07/06/2013 4:25 PM

Derby is about to ask dog owners to do their duty and scoop the poop.

The Derby City Council will vote July 23 on an ordinance that would require residents to pick up after their dogs and other animals or face a fine.

The city would join others in the area that have such rules on the books, including Andover, El Dorado, Maize and Rose Hill.

Wichita doesn’t, even though a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency helped pay for a website, www.bagitupwichita.org, and a video that encourages people to do just that. The upbeat video features musician Jenny Wood and the Diamond W Wranglers and dance performances by the Wichita North YMCA. A few dogs, and their doo, also make cameos.

Derby has been considering a city ordinance for about a year, city manager Kathy Sexton said.

“I think it’s fair to say that several people in the community have talked about this,” she said. “I think they’ve visited other cities and have seen signs up about it.”

The proposed rule in Derby would require people to pick up animal waste on public property and private property owned by someone else. The fine for breaking the rule would be $10 plus court costs for a total of about $40, Sexton said.

“The main purpose of having the ordinance on the books is so people can put up signs and people can do their duty,” she said. “We want to get people to comply and understand this is what is expected of you in this community.”

People would get a warning for a first offense, she said.

The city is working on a new feature for its website that would allow residents to upload photos of people violating the rules. Photos would have a time and date stamp.

City Council members will meet and consider the ordinance at 6:30 p.m. July 23.

“Some were all for it, and some were skeptical,” Sexton said.

But Sexton said leaders realize that in addition to the “ickiness” factor, feces also can contaminate stormwater runoff.

“It is gross,” she said. “People want to be able to enjoy parks. If you’re constantly encountering piles of poo, that’s just not good. But this can be an issue besides just the ickiness of it.”

The environmental impact is the focus of the www.bagitupwichita.org website. Its video titled “Dog Doogity” notes that waste can end up in the Arkansas River.

Lt. Doug Nolte of the Wichita Police Department said even though Wichita doesn’t have a law on the books, the city encourages people to clean up after animals.

“We want people to be good neighbors,” he said.

Melissa Houston, communications specialist at the Kansas Humane Society, said the shelter’s store sells poop bags and holders.

“We always want people to pick up after their dogs. It’s the courteous thing to do,” she said.

Sarah Hagen, a code enforcement officer for El Dorado, said the ordinance there was updated in 2007. Records she had access to indicated the ordinance went back to 1993, but “there could have been one even way before that.”

The El Dorado ordinance says people should be responsible for picking up animal waste on public right of way, recreational areas and others’ private property.

People get a written warning for a first offense, she said. Citations signed by witnesses come with a minimum fine of $60, which includes court costs.

“With a signed complaint, the person signing the complaint has to be able to testify about what happened,” Hagen said.

Complaints are rare in El Dorado, she said.

“I think I’ve had one in the past year. I think the citizens in this town, they try to make sure that they clean up after their animals,” she said. “I’m very happy that the citizens that the citizens take pride in our town and want to clean up after their animals.”

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