Both dogs and their owners got a treat Thursday afternoon at the Superior Dog Park. To celebrate Earth Day and "Scoop the Poop Week," city water resources staff handed out snacks to dogs and free waste bag caddies to their owners.
"It seems like Superior does a very good job at cleaning up after their dogs," said Megan H'gfeldt, water resources specialist. "Most of the people I talked to at the dog park said 'Oh, yeah, I always have a bag with me.'"
One woman said that if she doesn't have a bag with, she makes it a point to find one.
"Which was really great to hear," H'gfeldt said.
The event was a preemptive strike against stormwater pollution.
Pet waste left to decay on sidewalks, grass or streets can get washed into storm sewers, which drain directly into local waterways instead of being treated by the city. That can contaminate water, both by introducing disease-causing organisms and by adding nutrients that encourage algae growth.
"Picking up after your dogs could protect us, because eventually the water ends up in Lake Superior," H'gfeldt said.
The city's Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department provides Mutt Mitts - waste bags for pet owners to use - as well as a garbage can to dispose of them in at nine locations: the Millennium Trail Parking lot, Wade Bowl, Central Park, the Hayes Court ballfields, Gouge Park and three Billings Park sites.
H'gfeldt said additional signage at the Mutt Mitt stations is planned to increase their visibility. The city is also seeking volunteers to adopt a number of Superior parks, trails and gardens, including the dog park.
The adoption program allows community members to take an active role in the upkeep and improvement of public spaces, from planting flowers and reporting vandalism to cleaning up litter. Volunteers must make a two-year commitment to the area and are expected to hold cleanups at least three times a year.