Doggie-Doo Unto Others…

By Beacon Staff

The vernal equinox occurred; spring is here and most of the valley floor’s snow is gone (except for what’s dumping down today). The warmth is welcome, but one particular aspect of the snow’s departure is not: several months’ worth of dog droppings have arisen where the snow has receded, and my walk to work is now a zig-zag path along the sidewalk, through the minefield of doggie-doo.

Walking along Second Street West, on the south side of the street near Sykes, the amount is staggering. These are clearly very well fed, very healthy, very large dogs. It got to a point where I would just cross the street to the other side rather than risk stepping on a sidewalk muffin.

A few days ago, I passed a Sykes employee sweeping the doggie doo into the gutter. He didn’t seem too pleased with his responsibilities that day. I doubt this particular kind of cleanup was listed among the duties when he took the job – but let me say his work has not gone unappreciated.

And Kalispell is not alone. The Whitefish Free Press recently published a hilarious letter from tourist Alan Finston of Blaine, Wash., complaining about the other “Big Mountains” he encountered, much to his displeasure, on his family ski vacation. This man was stunned at the sheer volume of canine crap he encountered every five to 10 feet along the walking trail and Colorado Avenue. I can’t take credit for the “Big Mountains” pun, it was all the letter writer’s, but judging from his experience, the dogs in Whitefish are every bit as well fed as in Kalispell.

“Come on people. If you are serious about attracting tourists and commerce to your town, at least have the decency to keep the streets relatively safe for walking,” Finston wrote. “Were I a merchant or a business person in your city, I would be seriously concerned about the not so welcoming carpet you’re rolling out to your prospective patrons.”

I don’t know what the fine is for not cleaning up after your pooch in Kalispell (though I’ve got a call into the city attorney’s office), but in Whitefish, there is a prominent sign at the entrance to the path threatening a $300 fine for the same offense.

“These citations should be easier picking than hanging out in any alley behind any bar in town at closing time,” Finston added.

I can’t speak for Whitefish, but I wonder if, in Kalispell, the city was as diligent about handing out fines for errant – or lazy – dog walkers as it is for parking infractions, there might be a lucrative new source of city revenue. And it might turn an irritating problem into a stinky source for civic improvement we can all appreciate.