Students write Missoula mayor to address pet waste problem


MISSOULA, Mont. - It's a friendly reminder -- putting your dog on the leash and picking up after it.

Two girls from Rattlesnake Elementary School wrote letters to the Missoula mayor voicing their concerns.

The mayor met up with them and Mrs. Jarvis' second-grade class with their dogs at Pineview Park.

"There's a lot of dog waste around, and what inspired me to do it was that Missoula's an amazing, beautiful place. When you see dog waste around, it just takes away from the beauty," said Rattlesnake Elementary second-grade student Sophia Cowmey.

Cowmey wrote a letter to the mayor asking for help in getting people to pick up after their dogs.

The mayor addressed the issue and even demonstrated.

"Pick it up. It's an easy thing, right, all within a few seconds. We have the tools here, we have the technology. We can do this," said Mayor John Engen.

"Us kids are always coming to the park and trying to play, but we can't because there's poop everywhere, and when we roll down the hills we can get it all over," said second-grade student Alta Jonessian.

She wrote a letter to the mayor, too, "So my dream could come true," said Jonessian.

Every city park has a Mutt Mitt station. It's just a matter of using it.

Dog owners need to pay attention to other rules, too.

"Some people don't visit parks as often as they would like to, because they're afraid that a dog is going to approach them, who's unwanted," said Director of City of Missoula Parks and Recreation Donna Gaukler.

Officials warn that if you don't have your dog on a leash, or if you don't pick up after it, you could be facing a fine of $25 or more.

"I'd really encourage owners to pick up after their pets," said Cowmey.

We got some numbers from Animal Control. During the months of March and April, workers observed 361 dogs in city parks. 290 were on leash and 71 were not. Of those 71 dogs, 51 owners either got a warning or a citation.

Animal Control officers say that in the month of May, there will be fewer warnings and more citations.

Having your dog off leash and not picking up after your dog are separate violations but neither is cheap. Fines range from $25 to $500. NBC Montana is told while the maximum fine is rare, repeat offenders can sometimes be slapped with it.

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