It appears that Clark County has at least been following one important part of hygiene during the pandemic: picking up dog poop.
DOGPAW, a nonprofit that maintains four off-leash dog parks in Clark County, restarted their monthly park cleanups on Saturday at Ike Memorial Off-Leash Dog Park in Vancouver, and the leftovers weren’t too plentiful, according to John Vanvig, who sits on the DOGPAW board of directors.
“This time around, as far as I can tell, I haven’t seen many stray dumps,” Vanvig said. “People have been very good about it.”
DOGPAW, which stands for Dog Owners Group for Park Access in Washington, generally does monthly clean-ups every first Saturday of the month. They cycle visits between the four dog parks during the nice weather months.
Because of COVID-19 the group took a little extra time off this year, pushing back their planned restart date from April to Saturday. The group refills holes that dogs dig and also pulls weeds or provides needed maintenance, in addition to cleaning up dog poop.
“Things got a little scruffy at these parks,” Vanvig said.
At Saturday’s cleaning, there was a particular focus on pulling foxtail weeds, which have barbed seed heads that can seriously injure dogs and sometimes require surgical removal.
Alicia Stevens, a volunteer coordinator with DOGPAW, said she likes to bring her pit bull mix Cooper to dog parks, so he can play and meet new dogs. Cleaning up is an easy way to give back.
“It does help a lot and maintains the parks so they stay nice,” she said. “I like helping to keep the parks going.”
DOGPAW President Eileen Cervantes said she was enthusiastic to be doing cleanings again. DOGPAW can always use more volunteers and donations, Cervantes said. Vanvig said the city of Vancouver has started mowing at Ike, which frees the group up to use resources on other areas of need.
While it appears that folks have mostly been good at picking up dog poop, Cervantes said that Dakota Dog Park in east Vancouver, a high traffic park, has had some problems with people not picking up dog poop. DOGPAW’s website says that dog poop can carry diseases that can infect other dogs or humans and can contaminate water and soil.
“Just because you are at a dog park does not mean it isn’t your responsibility to pick up dog poop,” Cervantes said.
Since Cervantes took over as president in October 2018, she said she’s focused on revamping DOGPAW, specifically its business practices. She said the nonprofit is now “survivable” and in a good place for the long run.
DOGPAW wants to raise funds to build a new fence at IKE that will last for a couple decades. If they can build the new fence, Cervantes said DOGPAW can donate the old fence to another group in need.
“If we can turn around and help another community, I’m excited about that,” she said.