As record-breaking snowpacks finally start to recede across some of Wyoming, what Fido has left lurking beneath the drifts is being revealed – in many cases also in record-breaking volumes.
Dog doo cleanup is a stinky – but necessary – springtime rite, and it’s already in full swing in parts of the state.
There have been canine claymores galore in Laramie, said Matthew Blaylock, owner of the Doo House pet waste removal service.
“I was scheduled out last Wednesday all the way to this coming Friday,” he told Cowboy State Daily. “It’s been pretty typical for spring. As soon as the snow melts, everybody wants their dog poop picked up right away.”
He said his business, founded in 2010, is the oldest pooper scooper service in Wyoming.
Meanwhile in Jackson, where Tom Spano has run The Dog’s Business pet waste cleanup for two years, things are slower.
“It’s been a delayed season,” he told Cowboy State Daily early Wednesday. “It’s snowing again here even as we speak.”
‘Little Brown Gems’
Spano said his business is about a month behind its usual spring rush.
Given the persistent snowpack in parts of the state, that sounds about right, said Cowboy State Daily meteorologist Don Day of Cheyenne.
Melt-off is behind schedule “in the areas that got extensive snow cover this year – like Jackson, like Lander and Riverton, like Casper and down into Carbon County,” Day said.
However, even in the heaviest-hit areas, some bare patches should be popping through, he said.
“I think there is going to be some opportunity for those folks to find some little brown gems,” Day said.
Cold temperatures have also delayed snow melt and green-up across much of the Cowboy State, he said.
“Since Dec. 1 or so it’s been not just a little colder than normal, but a lot colder than normal,” he said.
Frozen Down Doggie Deuces
The cold and lingering snow can make doggie doo duty difficult, Blaylock said.
“If we get a warm week in February or early March people will start calling me, but I tell them you can’t pick poop up then because it’s still frozen to the ground,” he said. “By late November, everything starts freezing to the ground.”
Even so, Blaylock said he tries to scoop what’s suspended in snow during the winter, just to keep ahead of things.
“Every pile of poop we get out of your yard during the winter is one less we have to pick up in the spring, he said.
Blaylock added that he’s seen yards that “are just a solid layer of poop” once the snow disappears. His record haul from one location was “18 to 25 30-gallon bags full of dog poop.”
“You get used to it,” Blaylock added about the nature of his business. “When you do something long enough, it doesn’t bother you anymore.”
Spano said he also sometimes switches from his typical rake and scoop to a shovel to retrieve what he can over the winter. But it’s been especially tough this year given record snowfall in Jackson.
Spot Drops An Environmental Hazard
Unlike some livestock manure, dog doo isn’t good for grass, Spano added, so it’s important to get it cleaned up quicky once spring hits.
“It can seep into the snow, and then the snow melts into the grass,” he said, adding that the melting process can make his job harder.
“Not to get into too much detail, but during spring things can be difficult because of how soupy everything gets. It’s hard to pick up liquid,” he said.
He added that’s a concern around creeks or springs, because dog poo melt-off can seep into the water and contaminate it.
He said he sometimes volunteers to pick up dog piles around steam banks, or “take a 20-minute walk to pick up the bags that people intended to come back for but never did.”
He encourages others to do the same.
“For one dog in X amount of space, it’s not that big of a deal,” he said. “But when it’s thousands of dogs pooping in 3 square miles, that’s not good.”
Wyoming Gone To The Dogs?
Wyoming does indeed have dogs by the thousands, but not as many as other states, according to pet ownership statistics posted online by World Population Review.
Wyoming has the most pets per-capita of any U.S. state, according to the group’s charts – with an overall pet ownership rate of 71.8 %. However, the per-capita rate of dog ownership was 36%, while cats were at 30%.
Montana was the most dog-friendly state, and hence probably is facing a spring with the most prodigious piles of poo. The overall rate of pet ownership in Montana was listed at 62%, with dogs coming in at 51.9%.
Nationally, the pet ownership rate is 54.8 %, 33.7% for dogs and 24.4% for cats.