Some public walking areas in Hope Mills are going to the dogs, and the staff of the Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Department is working quickly to correct the problem.
Lamarco Morrison, head of the department, said he first got word a couple of weeks ago that there was a growing problem at the recently opened Golfview Greenway of dog owners walking their animals and not properly cleaning up after them.
If the problem continues to mount, the town could resort to some extreme measures, like fining dog owners observed leaving animal waste at the greenway or the walking track at Hope Mills Municipal Park near Town Hall. A worst-case scenario would be not allowing dog owners to walk their animals at all.
But Morrison said the town would prefer not to do that and is implementing some plans that will help dog owners to police the waste their animals produce.
“At the end of the day, it’s still on the owners to clean up after their dogs,’’ Morrison said.
The first thing that will be done, especially at the greenway, is to install what are called doggie stations. Two are already in place, and two more have been ordered. The walking trail at Municipal Park already has multiple doggie stations.
Each doggie station includes bags for collecting dog waste and a small waste container to put the bags in once the waste has been collected.
At the greenway, they’ll be located at the four corners of the area.
For situations when owners and their dogs are on the trail some distance from one of the doggie stations, Morrison and his staff are giving away what he referred to as a doggie keychain. It’s a small plastic receptacle that the owner can easily attach to a belt, keychain or even the dog’s leash.
The receptacle can carry empty doggie bags and then be used to hold a filled bag until the owner reaches one of the doggie stations and can drop it into the waste container there.
There will also be signs along the trail reminding dog owners to clean up after their dogs.
To further help with the problem, town maintenance workers who are already assigned to working at the greenway and Municipal Park will also be policing the trail for dog waste.
Aside from the simple nuisance of possibly coming into contact with dog waste left along the trail, Morrison said there’s also a health hazard associated with dog waste being left in a public area.
“If your dog hasn’t been immunized with all his shots, you could spread things to other animals,’’ Morrison said.
Although he doesn’t encourage confrontations, Morrison said one of the best ways for the problem to be resolved is for dog owners to police each other and encourage making sure everybody is picking up after their animals.
Morrison is hopeful that will prevent the town from having to go to the extreme of banning walkers at the greenway and Municipal Park from bringing their dogs along.