Pick up after your dog!

Dogs on a romp at the Mendenhall Glacier, where they should be on leash. Always pick up after your canine companions. Photo by Julia Carlisle.

Pick up your dog’s poop as soon as it’s dropped, or risk a fine.

After months of studying the problem, city officials Friday announced a zero-tolerance policy for dog waste and other dog-related problems in area parks.

CBJ Parks and Landscape Superintendent George Schaaf says the CBJ Dog Task Force looked at various solutions, including education, personal encouragement, and a media campaign, but the problems continue.

“And of course when the weather gets warmer, it becomes extremely obvious that there is a problem, especially in certain areas,” Schaaf says.  “So at this point, having exhausted all our other options, we’re  moving on to enforcement as a solution and we’re hopeful that we can avoid the need to actually close any parks to dogs if the problems still continue.”

Animal Control officers will no longer give warnings, but will issue citations immediately for anyone caught not cleaning up after their pets. Afterall, Schaaf says, dog waste is a public health issue, and the city has had pet laws on the books for years.

See that trash can at Fish Creek? The owner of this dog should have picked up that waste and put it in the can. The CBJ and USFS provide pick-up bags at most trail heads.

“It’s already required that you have a bag or another means of sanitary disposal with you whenever you’re in a leash law area and that includes most of the downtown business districts and other sites downtown, Schaff says. “And then it’s also illegal to allow your dog to relieve itself on any public or private property that doesn’t belong to you, without permission of the owner.

Those laws pertain throughout CBJ, whether on city, state or federal land, including Mendenhall Glacier and the Tongass National Forest. In the winter, the U.S. Forest Service helps maintain cross-country ski trails at the Mendenhall Glacier Campground.  Complaints last week of piles of dog feces sent the campground manager to inspect, says Ed Grossman of the Forest Service.

“The campground manager went out there and picked up a couple gallons of the nasty stuff around the gate area,” Grossman says. 

Like the city, the Forest Service  provides plastic bags at trail heads for picking up dog waste.  Grossman was a part of the city’s dog policy discussion last year.  He says the Forest Service will take its cue from the city, hoping the new enforcement will work.

“There’s little doubt that we are just as disgusted as the other land managers at the fact that we provide bags and receptacles and have jointly gone out with public notices, we have signs,” Grossman says. “So we share the concerns across ownerships, and have turned to the Grateful Dogs group to help us. They’ve done clean up days, they’ve done educational notices as well, but the problem persists at everyone of our sites and on everyone of our trails.” 

Leash laws are also on the books in downtown Juneau and many developed recreation areas throughout the borough, including the Mendenhall Glacier area.

Dogs must be on leash where noticed, and if they’re in an area where a leash is not required, they must be under competent voice control.  Schaff says that means never having to apologize for your dog’s behavior.

Enforcement is the key and that may be difficult.  Citizen complaints were the impetus for the CBJ Dog Task Force and the resulting zero-tolerance policy.

Schaaf says citizens should continue to report violators to Animal Control at 789-6997.