Steamboat Springs In Ski Town U.S.A., the spring thaw serves as a reminder as to why Steamboat Springs also is sometimes referred to as Dog Town U.S.A.
During the winter months, dog owners are less conscientious about cleaning up after their pets. The waste often gets covered again and again by fresh snow.
That is, until spring, when the city, homeowners and homeowners associations have to deal with months worth of dogpiles.
When Joe Ross' homeowners association met to discuss dog-waste problems, the owners turned their heads in Ross' direction.
"When the heated topic came up, they all looked at me," said Ross, who owns two dogs.
He contends he cleaned up after his dogs, but the accusatory looks gave him an idea.
The homeowners association hired Ross to clean up the grounds. It was the beginning of his professional training, he said.
"They were so willing to pay me to pick up poop, why not put some fliers out," said Ross, 28.
The concept behind Dogpile Industries was born, and to make it official as well as for tax purposes, he registered the company name with the Colorado Secretary of State's Office.
A mechanic by day, Ross said he has no problem embarrassing himself and being known as the guy who picks up poop.
Humor is a large part of his new profession.
"It's a crappy job, but somebody has to do it," his flier states. "Call us to come and pick up the poo, so you don't have to."
The one-liners don't end there.
"I was thinking of taglines, like 'call soon, business is picking up'," Ross said.
And Ross has found there is a definite demand for his services, especially this time of year. He is getting a couple phone calls a day, he said.
"I've found that people don't want to do it themselves," he said.
Each single-family home on average nets about six to ten gallons of garbage.
"It ends up being about half poop and half garbage," he said.
He will give customers estimates before doing the job. He does most yards for about $20. Multiple residences cost a minimum of $50.
He said he is setting up regular customers and, while spring might be his busiest time of year, he expects it will turn into a "crappy" year-round side job.
Poop is not as much of a laughing matter for Routt County and city officials.
"It's a potential health hazard because potentially there are organisms in the feces," said County Environmental Health Director Mike Zopf. "That, and it's unsightly, and it smells. It's just nasty."
The city of Steamboat Springs used to sponsor April Stools Day as a way to encourage residents to clean up poop, said Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord.
"If everybody picked up a little bit of trash and a little dog poop that's great," DuBord said. "In the meantime we just want to encourage residents that trash is appearing everywhere."
These days, there is an ongoing effort by city staff to clean up the parks and trails, she said, but the encouragement has not stopped.
"I wish dog owners picked up after their pets better, but unfortunately our city staff sometimes has to do some of that," parks Supervisor Ernie Jenkins said.
The city's Parks, Open Space & Recreational Services department again this year will sponsor Green Up Clean Up Day on June 2.
"It's kind of a day that we just sort of spiff up the town," Jenkins said.
- To reach Matt Stensland, call 871-4210
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