“Scoop the Poop”: Town educating public on the importance of cleaning up dog waste

Above: Town committees are trying to raise awareness that not disposing properly of dog poop can negatively impact the environment and the state’s drinking water supply. (images from Town website)

As a popular book for little ones declares, Everyone Poops. So, if wild animals are pooping in our woods near our trails, why should residents bother picking up after their dogs?

The Southborough Stewardship and Trails Committees are trying to raise awareness that there are key safety differences.

The committees are seeking to educate the public through a “Scoop the Poop” initiative. They’re also informing the public, for similar safety reasons, there are some trails in town where dogs aren’t welcome.

The committees announced that the education campaign is to:

protect our conservation lands, our trails, our wildlife habitat, our water, and to keep Southborough clean and beautiful. Over the coming weeks we will be posting information to promote awareness. . .  This initiative is funded by a 2021 Choate Fund Grant. #Soboscoopsthepoop

An educational page provides the following quotes on why pet waste is different than wild animal waste:

DCR Pet waste info sheet“Dogs are fed processed foods or people food that results in an excess of nutrients in their waste and the environment. Wild animals on watershed property consume natural sources from the ecosystem and return nature to nature in their waste.” DCR Public Advisory  

“Pet waste poses a serious threat to water quality as it is full of bacteria and viruses that can be harmful to people and wildlife, and nutrients that can cause harmful algal blooms.” DCR Educational Flyer

As for where dogs aren’t allowed:

The Sudbury Reservoir serves as backup drinking water supply for millions of people and strict regulations are in place to help keep the watershed and water clean and free of pollutants. Dog wasteno dogs allowed contains harmful bacteria that can make people sick, especially children, and can be carried into water supplies by rain or snowmelt.

While dog walking is permitted on sidewalks, roadways, and a few other locations, dog walking is not allowed on any athletic field or on the Sudbury Reservoir/Boroughs Loop/Aqueduct Trail and the Bay Circuit Trail. The trails are located on watershed properties owned by the DCR and MWRA. DCR’s Office of Watershed Management (DWSP) manages much of that land, and its use is regulated by the Watershed Protection Act. Please visit the trail map repositoryfor a comprehensive list of trails in town.

You can learn more, and look for future updates, here.

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2 years ago

Dog poop. Just say pick up your dog poop. Now we have to set our dogs free to scavenge and roam among the natural habitat and let them eat rabbit poop, branches, twigs, and other dead animals. Is that OK. I just don’t want to step in the poop. Give me a break. People don’t pick up the dog poop. Period. Let’s hire poop police, and fine the folks hefty fines to punish them. That should make for a wonderful environment. How about fixing the cracks and the holes in the streets and sidewalks. Do you need other ideas on fixing Sobo. I have a million of them.

2 years ago

Roxanne, I hope you also have the funds to do all the so-called improvements you talk about. Yes, pick up your dog poop. But I find it interesting that so many people have moved into this “small” town and want to change it. Maybe they should have moved somewhere else where they would be happier. Everybody has suggestions but very few do anything other than complain about them. People who put up signs saying “Drive like your kids live here”. My kids don’t live there because i didn’t buy that house on a busy street, expecting everyone else to watch for my kids. When I owned a house on a busy street, my kids played in the backyard! And even better, they still didn’t go outside without me until they were old enough. So, unless you are willing to put YOUR money where your mouth is as the saying goes, don’t think we are all going to financially support your hopes and dreams of your Southborough.

Too Much Regulation
2 years ago
Reply to  Resident

Dear Resident,

We’re just talking about people being good neighbors. We don’t need another set of unenforceable laws (Hello Noise Bylaw !!! No Hooting and Hollering ???: Where have you gone Peter, just when we need you!)

2 years ago

We could combine two of roxanneperro2’s suggestions above – fill the pavement voids with the dog feces!

Where I live, somebody has been walking their BIG dog and leaving its excrement right on the sidewalk, thank you very much.Then there are those people who put their dog’s waste in a little plastic bag and throw it into the street or just leave it on someone’s lawn. WTH?!?

Southborough already has a “removal of dog litter” bylaw, Section 81-11 added in the 2016 ATM. This is enforced about as well as the speed limits on the town’s streets. Are these the reasons Chief Ken Paulhus is gone?

2 years ago

“Resident” I pay dearly as we all do to stay in this town. I can and will complain because the taxes are choking all of us, and we’re receiving less and less for them. The roads are a mess, the sidewalks as well, the streets are littered, and public works is too busy with pocket parks, and other secret projects to address the taxpayers needs. Time for change. As long as we have a government for the government, I will voice my views. Thank you very much

2 years ago

Why is this an argument? Dog owners, pick up the dang poop and bring those little bags home to go in the garbage! It’s not only unsafe for our drinking water, but if a dog has certain diseases that a careless owner may leave untreated or unvaccinated, it could make other dogs VERY sick. So if you own a dog in Town, and you think you don’t want to report the abuses of other dog owners, than you better keep your beloved pet home.
While we are at it, how do we get dog owners to keep their dogs on leash while on the trails? This is totally out of hand now.
This is not a tax or spending issue. It’s common decency. And you had best read the law on that dog license you are required to have.

Too Much Regulation
2 years ago
Reply to  m

Amen! If you see someone not picking up their poop, perhaps Beth would let you post the picture?

2 years ago

Impossible to catch them not picking it up, they are more aware of people watching than they care about the law. Best to watch them return home without a poop bag. Who walks their dogs twice a day and never collects poop? I know a guy!

We all know who is not picking it up and we all know the police WILL NOT enforce this just like they won’t enforce the noise bylaw. No matter who is chief. These tasks are just too menial for our police.

A lot of Southborough dog owners don’t care and the rest of us have to care enough to confront them.
Any suggestions involving common language we can all use so as not to put folks on the defensive?

Common Sense
2 years ago
Reply to  Matthew


So now you want an ordnance that will target people who return with a poop bag? Give me break. Maybe, the dog did her business in her owner’s yard before the walk.

Maybe dog owners should be educated and reminded to clean up.

There’s a business near downtown, where both of the owners walk their older lab without a leash.They never clean up so if you see a ‘present’ along the cemetery’s stone wall, you can thank them.

Maybe I’ll just pick up their dog poop and leave it on the front steps of their white building.

2 years ago
Reply to  Common Sense

Never mentioned another ordinance, my only request was for common language to start the conversation with those who obviously do not pick up after their dog. You have provided none by the way.

“Vigilante poop slinger” is good name, more appropriate than “Common Sense” for sure. There’s your break.

world of illusion
2 years ago
Reply to  Matthew

Matthew: what you may be seeing may not be the whole story. I know of a couple people who walk their dogs and, if they collect poop, deposit the little bags in waste receptacles they may encounter on their route, thereby returning home bagless! Please also consider the possibility the walk may have been lacking a pooping action.

Sorry to disappoint you – the town has NO noise bylaw! The current toothless variant of a noise bylaw document, watered down to the point of absurdity, will be presented to voters at the ATM in May. If it passes in its current form, the town will still be without a noise bylaw.

There are speed limit signs peppered through the Southborough villages. Ever see anyone stopped? Our police force seems to be focused exclusively on route 9.

2 years ago

I met one of those people who finds a receptacle. Turns out I caught him walking 25 feet onto my property to put it in my recycling. Real nice kid too he told me his Dad told him to put it there.
There are good people and bad people. Unfortunately the number of people who don’t pick up after their dogs outnumbers those who do.

“…like they won’t enforce the noise by-law.”
Implied the new by-law not an existing one. Thanks for interjecting your issues with the noise by-law into a topic about dog crap. Fitting perhaps.

Speeding too, we’ll this is just a general topic now. And by the way I see them making stops on Southville far more than anywhere else but that is my road most travelled so we only see what’s in front of us I guess.

2 years ago

Seems you are not happy with what is going on at the Police Station. Perhaps you can make suggestions. However, before you do, make sure you have your story straight. Have you ever driven on Routed 9 at 5PM? Cars flying down the turning lanes almost causing accidents, other cars all times of the day going in excess of 70 mph. Yeah that is where a lot of the focus is and rightfully so. But, let’s not belittle our police force by saying they aren’t policing other roads. I see them all over town, Route 30 near Lynnbrook, Northborough Road, Boston Road, Oak Hill Road. There is only so much they can do with the manpower they have. And YES I have seen people stopped a lot! Not sure why you aren’t seeing it but before you disparage the people who will help you in an emergency, think before you speak. We have a great force and they do their jobs. Appreciate them.

Barb B
2 years ago

Been walking my dogs next to the reservoir for 40 years and have enjoyed meeting and chatting with lots of other responsible dog owners during these lovely walks. (I always carry poop bags and remove waste when it “happens”.) I’ve never been told not to do so, nor seen any signage to that effect. Who enforces these policies and who pays for it?

2 years ago

I walk my dog at Breakneck Hill almost every day. I’m all for educating and reminding dog owners about responsible practices. The 20 or so cheap, tacky, homemade signs placed all around Breakneck Hill, however, are over-the-top and obnoxious. It makes the beautiful conservation land look like Route 9. Based on past experience, I also suspect these “committees” will never come back to check on, collect, or repair these signs later, so they’ll just end up being more litter for the land (there are plenty of old fallen signs from past years still there). I recognize that people not picking up their poop is a problem, but the current “solution” is worse than the problem it seeks to solve.

2 years ago
Reply to  Charles

I agree with your assessment, Charles. Just wanted to comment that when I walked at Breakneck Hill early this afternoon, the signs had been removed.

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