With warm weather continuing in January, some of Airdrie's dog owners have taken to social media to vent some of their frustration and disgust at the unpleasant surprises the mid-winter thaw has brought forward, namely dog feces.

Social media posts highlighted that the off-leash dog park on the south side of Nose Creek Park is littered with dog feces, so much so that some people are avoiding the area altogether. While the individual post spurred dozens upon dozens of comments echoing similar sentiments of anger and disappointment at dog owners who do not pick up their four-legged companion's waste, Maury Karch, the Coordinator of Municipal Enforcement with the city of Airdrie, said that the city hasn't noticed an uptick in complaints. He noted that it is natural that when spring-like weather comes, the previously covered feces end up becoming an eyesore. 

Karch noted that it is a cumulative problem and one that dog owners don't realize can pile up, both figuratively and literally.

"Four or five people or even 10 people aren't cognizant of their dog pooping and then it gets buried in the snow and the next day it happens and the next day it happens," he said. "When the snow melts in a week's time, you've got say 70 piles, and then it's very noticeable."

Karch doesn't believe it is a nuisance that will ever cease, in part because enforcement is difficult.

"If you see an animal defecate and it's that golden retriever and you're the witness, we have to track down that dog owner; unless we catch them red-handed," Karch said. "Then we're relying on the public to provide a statement and go to court and therein lies usually the problem because we don't know who the owner of the dog is and we can't charge them."

Even if the owner and the dog are found and identified, the person making the original complaint will have to provide a statement and then go to court - which can be a year from the original complaint.

"We'd like to be able to write more tickets, but the opportunity usually doesn't present itself all that often."

Social media posts from other Airdrie residents also mentioned that other dog parks in the city seem to have a similar problem of dog feces being left, including King's Heights park as well as Southpoint. Karch noted that it may not always be negligence, but sometimes dog owners may be distracted, whether they are on their phones or otherwise, and simply miss their dog doing their business and never check to see if anything needs to be cleaned up. 

The majority of the dog parks in Airdrie are equipped with dispensers at either the entrance or exit which offer small bags for feces disposal and all parks are equipped with garbage cans to then dispose of said waste. Karch said that as a dog owner himself, he often has spare bags with him.

"As a responsible pet owner, if it's near the path [but it's not ours], we pick it up," he said.

According to Airdrie's city bylaws, the fine for allowing a dog to defecate without cleaning up, as a first offence is $350. 

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