Spring is in the air, doggie doo is on the trails in Whitehorse

The snow is melting fast, revealing a winter's worth of smelly deposits. Dog owners can be fined, but are they ever?

Leaving a mess can mean $100 fine for owners, but catching Fluffy in the act is not easy say bylaw officers

As the snow melts in Whitehorse, it reveals some unwanted surprises. (Wayne Vallevand CBC)

We've all seen it, smelled it, and maybe even stepped in it — dog poop.

Like landmines, they adorn Yukon trails, backyards, parks and even sidewalks. Seeing them appear as the snow cover melts is a rite of spring.

There are rules for picking up after our furry friends, but how often are they enforced?

Dave Pruden, manager of bylaw services for the City of Whitehorse, says it's almost impossible to catch dogs in the act of leaving a mess behind. (CBC)

"Needle in a haystack," says Dave Pruden, Whitehorse's manager of bylaw services, when describing how difficult it can be to catch Fluffy in the act.

"We will go out and do foot patrols in the subdivisions, but the odds of us coming across a person walking a dog when it happens to be taking a poop ... it's very slim."

Pruden says despite countless foot patrols over his career, he's also never come across someone not picking up after their dog.

If an owner is caught leaving dog poop behind, they can be fined $100. 

'Go the whole mile'

Even if most Whitehorse dog owners are responsible, there are times when it can be a challenge to pick up after Fido. Say, if he's eaten a leftover burrito lying on the sidewalk while the owner wasn't looking.

Then plans can change.

"I had a couple of times when my dog's bowel movements have been pretty loose and you can't pick it up, literally," said Whitehorse dog owner Sandy Clunies-Ross, "So I try and cover it with some snow or something."

'If you want a dog, you have to go the whole mile,' said Whitehorse resident Sandy Clunies-Ross. (Wayne Vallevand CBC)

"But other than that, I would say you don't want to walk in it, you know it's someone else's and you're grossed out by it, then pick your own dog's up. If you want a dog, you have to go the whole mile."

Cathy Sheardown, out walking in Whitehorse, said she's actually noticing more dog landmines on the trails this year.

"As previous dog owners, we used to walk this trail all the time with our dogs and never didn't pick up after them," she said.

"And now that we are kind of walking without them, we are noticing ... an increased amount. Maybe this winter with its horrible snow-melt-thaw thing — maybe that contributes," she said.

The city's bylaw services department says it does supply bags at popular trails around the city.

But in Whitehorse, there may always be some dog owners and dogs who turn a blind eye.

For your convenience: bag dispensers can be found on many popular trails around Whitehorse. (Wayne Vallevand CBC)


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