Friday, May 2, 2008

Where’s the Bag?

Charil Reyes is a resident of Ketchum.


A few weeks ago, a visitor to the Sun Valley area wrote a letter to the editor advising that Sun Valley clean up its act with regard to dog excrement. I strongly concur with the sentiment.

Aside from the guilty dog owners perhaps feeling admonished and briefly chastised for allowing this disgusting habit to go unchecked (that of not picking up after one's dog), what progress has been made? It is not the job of non-dog owners or responsible dog owners to come up with a way to deal with the ongoing problem of piles of dog excrement littering our trails, walkways, yards, streets and parking lots. The job of getting this issue under control belongs to those who just open the door and let their dogs wander each day. It belongs to those who think that a little dog poop behind some bushes won't be noticed.

You irresponsible dog owners wouldn't go so far as to use the outdoors as an outhouse and just leave your excrement for all to see. Why should you allow the waste from your dog to just sit there? Just because you desire privacy and therefore require a toilet and your dogs don't require that privacy and can't be trained to use a toilet doesn't mean you can leave the piles where they land. Pick them up.

So often we read and hear about the beauty and grandeur of our state and the efforts to preserve it. I find it quite difficult to enjoy this valley when I am continually peering at the ground navigating my next step and trying not to lose my lunch. For those of you who are seen with your dogs while they are doing their business, do you know what everyone else is thinking as they pass?

"Where's the bag?"

I guarantee it. For those who think the poop will disintegrate and go away as the snow melts, I've got news for you: It doesn't go away. The snow melts and disappears, but the poop is left behind, in a soft, brown, gooey, sloppy mess until the rain or the street sweeper disperses it. Remember that no matter where you tread, you are treading on a watershed.

Many of you have been aware of a sickness going around in recent days and weeks. Have a closer look. Yes, the fevers, upset stomachs, diarrheas and vomiting could all be the result of one very annoying "bug," but those symptoms are ridiculously similar to having contracted the rotavirus, which my daughter recently had. Rotavirus infects people when infected fecal matter somehow enters the mouth and makes its way to the intestines.

Imagine my thoughts as I happily packed my child into the Chariot this weekend to jog our wonderful multi-use path that was finally mostly clear of the long winter's snow. Now imagine my delight slowly dissolving to disgust as I worked to dodge pile after pile of rotting dog poop along the way, swerving all over the place. No one enjoys stepping in dog crap. Yet we were unable to fully avoid mucking through some of those piles. I must have resembled a drunk driver, steering first this way, then that, vainly searching for clean pavement. My mind ran wild with the possibilities of recurring illnesses: Every pile became a looming mountain of billions of rotavirus enemies.

Dog owners of the Wood River Valley and visitors with dogs: Just as you strive to leave no trace and reduce your carbon footprints, so should you aid your four-footed friend to leave no trace. The fecal matter will end up in our soil, in our water and, yes, in our stomachs. Don't we all have enough to worry about, enough troubles in this world to address for which we don't yet have an answer? This no-brainer issue has an easy solution. You can solve this epidemic virtually overnight by making a decision to do the right thing. Do something about it now, every day. It is your responsibility and no one else's. You chose to own the dogs.

And thank you very much to those responsible dog owners who already have the presence of mind to clean up after their dogs every time.

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