The Original Mutt Mitt® Beginner's Guide To Professional Dog Waste Management
Professional Property Managers, Groups, City, Town, HOA, and Park Managers have a challenging task of providing services to residents and guests while maintaining cost control and operational efficiency.
Providing dog waste stations and dog waste bags significantly increases clean-up compliance. The best way to manage dog waste is to install a dog waste system that is cost-effective and user oriented.
It is the Law nationwide, with few exceptions, that dog owners must clean up after their dogs. Fines ranging from $20 to $10,000 are commonplace, coast-to-coast.
DOG WASTE IS HARMFUL
Dog waste is a major pollutant and contaminant of the water supply. It is a serious health issue. In fact, it is estimated that 1/3 of all water contamination is a result of dog waste run-off entering streams and leaching into the underground water supply. The average dog can produce 274 pounds of waste each year. Disease from dog waste can spread to other dogs, children, and adults.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) deemed dog waste a "nonpoint source of pollution" in 1991, which puts dog waste in the same category as oil spills and toxic chemicals. A single gram of dog waste can contain 23 million fecal coliform bacteria, which are known to cause cramps, diarrhea, intestinal illness, and serious kidney disorders in humans. The EPA estimates that two- or three-days’ worth of waste from just 100 dogs would contribute enough bacteria to temporarily close a bay, and all watershed areas within 20 miles of it, to swimming and shell fishing.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), dog waste can contribute to diseases that animals pass to humans, called zoonoses. When infected waste is deposited on the ground, the eggs of certain roundworms and other parasites can linger in the soil for years. Anyone, especially dogs, who comes into contact with that soil, be it through gardening, playing sports, walking barefoot or any other means, runs the risk of coming into contact with the eggs.
Some of the hard-to-pronounce parasites that waste could harbor include Cryptosporidium, Giardia, Salmonella, as well as hookworms, ringworms, and tapeworms. Infections from these bugs often cause fever, muscle aches, headache, vomiting, and diarrhea in humans. Children are most susceptible since they often play in the dirt and put objects and fingers in their mouth or eyes.
WHY PROPERTY MANAGERS NEED TO PROVIDE DOG WASTE STATIONS
Even though the Law requires dog owners to clean up after their dogs, not all dog owners are responsible or community minded. By providing a highly visible system, Professional Managers can create a prominent awareness of each dog owner's responsibility and produce greater compliance. In addition, pro-active installation of dog waste systems has other benefits:
1) A Higher Level of Compliance: Dog owners are more likely to clean up after their dogs if they are provided with dog waste bags and waste containers. Owners will feel more responsible if a system is provided and they realize someone is 'monitoring'. It becomes socially unacceptable for a dog owner to allow their dog to soil the grounds when a convenient pick-up bag and trash container is provided. Dog owners feel a sense of connection with the Property's management when progressive steps are taken to solve the dog waste problem.
2) Contained Waste: Waste is contained to one specialized location where dog waste stations are provided. This is a better solution than owners using their own bags and dropping waste into other trash cans, down storm drains, dumpsters, or taking it back to their residences and flushing bags down toilets or co-mingling with other household trash. The best solution to solve the problem of dog waste is to provide Dog Waste Stations and Bags.
3) Happier Dog Owners: By providing specialized waste bags and waste containers, dog owners appreciate the level of attention and concern that the Property's Management has for the dog owning residents, enhancing the value of their ownership and justification of rental rates, management fees, dog license fees and/or taxes.
4) Happier Non-Dog Owners: As pleased as dog owners will be, so will non-owners. "Dog-less" residents will greatly appreciate the cleaner environment.
5) Health Reasons: Dog waste contains bacteria and disease. Almost 33% of all pollutants in waterways are attributed to dog waste pollutants originating from rainwater run-off via sewer systems, and dogs soiling near watersheds or beaches. Dog waste is the third highest contributor to bacteria in contaminated waters. Dog waste can spread bacteria and disease to children, adults and other dogs.
6) Economics: It is far less expensive to provide waste bags and waste containers than it is to clean up soiled areas, handle resident complaints regarding soiled grounds and deal with local, state, or federal violations.
For Property Managers, one unhappy tenant who doesn't renew equals a unit not rented. That could cost the property, in lost rent, more than the entire cost of supplying that property with waste bags for a year. It might even cost a management company a contract renewal for the whole property. It makes sense to make residents and tenants happy.
For Municipalities, City and State Managers, eliminating resident complaints and reducing environmental pollution improves overall Management approval and continued support from the electorate.
INSTALLATION OF STATIONS AND DISPENSERS
Installation of dog waste stations or dispensers is very easy. The first one takes 30 minutes, then the subsequent units will install in 20 minutes.
There are 3 options for dog waste station installation:
Property Maintenance Personnel: Installation by your regular maintenance crew.
Dog Waste Removal Services: There are local dog waste removal services that will install and maintain waste stations, empty bins, and restock the waste dispenser bags weekly.
Independent Contractor: Any contractor can follow the easy installation directions provided with stations and dispensers.
SERVICING WASTE CANS AND BAG DISPENSERS
Property Maintenance: On a weekly basis, property or park maintenance personnel replace can liners and refill bag dispensers.
Homeowners Associations: If a property maintenance staff is not present, then the HOA can solicit a volunteer to administer the can emptying and bag dispenser refill each week.
Outside Services: There are local dog waste removal services that will change waste container bags weekly and restock the waste dispenser bags.
TYPES OF DOG WASTE STATIONS
The best dog waste stations and dispensers are made of Aluminum and not poly plastic resin. Aluminum stations last longer and withstand daily use better than poly resin or plastic units. Poly resin stations tend to fade, crack, and suffer more damage than sturdy aluminum units. Your best investment is an aluminum, or recycled plastic station.
Vertical stations (post, dispenser, can) tend to provide a better value and more flexibility than one-piece, valet type units, because you can replace and change the various components if necessary. With a one-piece unit there are less options and flexibility. Stations with key-locking bag dispensers are preferred over non-locking dispensers and will result is less bag waste.
COMPLETE STATIONS vs. DISPENSERS
If your location already has trash cans, you can install a dispenser and sign on a post next to the trash can for disposal of dog waste bags or choose a "mini" station. However, most Professional Managers recommended installing a complete dog waste station (pole, sign, dispenser, can) to keep dog waste separate from the general trash.
TYPES OF WASTE BAGS
The three most popular types of bags on the market are: Roll Bags, Header Bags, also called Mutt Mitt® bags, and Tie-Handle style bags.
Standard Roll Bags: A continuous roll with a perforation between each bag enabling the user to pull out and tear off as many bags as they desire. The potential waste of using this type of bag is caused by users often pulling out several bags when they only need one, and they then end up throwing out (wasting) extra bags along with the bag they used.
Header or Mutt Mitt® bags: These bags are packed flat in a stack and hang from prongs or hooks in the dispenser, designed to dispense one bag at a time, eliminating the waste, and added expense, of a roll bag system. Mutt Mitt® bags can reduce bag usage versus Roll Bags by as much as 70%. Mutt Mitt® bags are the most economical, user-friendly bags available. Mutt Mitt® bags have an advantage over most header bags because they have a bottom ‘gusset’ that forms a mitten for easier waste pick-up and safety.
Tie-Handle Roll Bags: Similar to Standard Roll Bags, except Tie-Handle bags are die-cut to create 2 'handles' for tying the bag closed after use. Some have a side gusset feature, also.
If you are starting a new program, it is more economical to use Mutt Mitt® dog waste bags. It would be cost effective to switch existing roll bag dispensers to Mutt Mitt® bag dispensers to realize the usage savings of Mutt Mitt® bags.
Compostable Bags: Consider compostable bags and can liners. Because ASTM6400 standard bags are made from corn biopolymers, they do not use oil resources and are more earth friendly.
Federal Trade Commission's 2012 Green Guides make unsubstantiated environmental bags claims of "biodegradable" or "degradable" or "compostable" or in claims that in any way imply that the bags will break down in a landfill to any customer, deceptive. All oxo-biodegradable bags do not meet the FTC requirements. If the customary method of disposal in your community is sanitary landfill or incineration, then NO BAG will have any environmental benefit.
FEES FOR RESIDENTS
Many Communities implement a small 'dog fee' or 'license fee' to help recover the costs of installing a dog waste system. By creating dog fees, the cost of paying for dog waste stations and bags is more fairly shouldered by dog owners.
Dog Fees are perceived as a fair system by both dog and non-dog owners.
Most waste stations and dispensers come with dog waste signs that identify and provide usage instructions. Make certain that these signs are kept clean and unobstructed. Signs should have both a symbol and text.
Once you have installed your Stations or Dispensers, it is important to inform residents. An effective notice should contain the following:
Where the Stations are located.
How to use the Stations and bags.
Regulations/Laws requiring their use.
Importance to all residents of making sure everyone complies.
Choose a Dog Waste solutions supplier that offers pre-printed notices or door hangers or PDF versions you can download and print on your letterhead or in community newsletters.
LOCATION AND QUANTITY OF STATIONS
It is recommended that you install ONE station for every 50 apartment/condo units, or if the units are in clusters of less than 50, that you place one station for each housing cluster. Monitor the usage and install additional stations if the cans are filling up or the dispensers are running out of bags more than once a week.
For Parks, place one unit every 500 feet within the park. You should then monitor the usage and install additional stations if the cans are filling up or the dispensers are running out of bags more than once a week.
A good "rule of thumb" is to provide one station for every 50 dogs that would pass by the station each day. For example, a park visited by 500 dogs a day would need 10 stations.
Studies show that cleaner parks are utilized more often by residents resulting in a higher level of resident satisfaction with their local government.
Dog Parks, particularly on weekends, are busy places. In general, Dog Parks should have twice the number of stations than a normal 'Park' might have. There should be a dog waste station located immediately outside the Dog Park area as well as multiple stations inside the Dog Park. Bag usage on weekends can be up to 10 times the daily usage levels, so the person managing the Dog Park needs to plan and provide dispenser refilling and can emptying on a regular basis throughout the weekend.
SECURITY AND VANDALISM
Install Stations and Dispensers in prominent, well lit, well-traveled areas to reduce vandalism. Consider adding a solar light, for increased visibility.
Professional Managers can greatly improve the quality of dog-friendly outdoor grounds and facilities by installing and maintaining Dog Waste Stations. Select an experienced supplier that understands your professional needs, your high level of service commitment to residents, and your balancing of cost controls and operational efficiency.
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