Dogs recruited in poop suspension effort. County tries humor at Holmes Harbor

These humorous signs will soon be placed by the county in the South Holmes Harbor Shellfish Protection District to appeal to pet owners to clean up their dog poop. -
These humorous signs will soon be placed by the county in the South Holmes Harbor Shellfish Protection District to appeal to pet owners to clean up their dog poop.
— image credit:

Island County is using public education — and a dash of levity — to help stem some of Holmes Harbor’s contamination woes.

Elevated levels of fecal coliform bacteria detected in the water prompted the county last year, at state Department of Health’s behest, to establish the South Holmes Harbor Shellfish Protection District.

Fecal coliform could originate from humans or animals. Dog waste is one potential contributor the county is targeting through its new “Scoop the Poop” roadside sign project.

The roads department will install in county rights of way, or roadsides, and inside the Freeland County Park, signs imploring dog owners to pick up after their pooches.

A second, smaller sign will be placed below the larger panel, appealing to canines in their own language.

“This is a humorous way to get the message to the public that dog waste needs to be put in a plastic bag and then into the trash,” said Jan Smith, watershed project manager. “I think it’s generational, but we’ve become accustomed to picking up pet waste and tossing it over the fence. Or we put poop in the compost.”

The unobtrusive but visible signs, purchased with grant funding from the state Department of Ecology, will only be installed within the shellfish protection district. Pollution problems have prompted officials to ban shellfish gathering and swimming at the county park on Holmes Harbor in Freeland.

Smith said the signs will be appearing within the next month. Residents on private roads located within the district may purchase the aluminum signs for $15, which does not include the nominal costs for a post and installation.

“We are basing our ‘pet waste campaign’ upon a successful program that has taken place in Snohomish County with Ecology’s cooperation,” Smith said. “It has been found that a lighter, humorous approach is most successful in addressing the issues of pet waste and water quality.”

County roads will also install a “DogiPot” at the Myrtle Avenue trailhead, a side street that runs between Freeland’s commercial center and the county park bordering Holmes Harbor. The trail is often referred to as Capes Loop.

DogiPots are pet waste stations that offer fully biodegradable litter bags and a lidded receptacle.

Dog owners who feel their pet has not been given the recognition he or she deserves will have the opportunity to launch Spot into the limelight via flattering county-sponsored posters. In addition to the pet’s adorable visage, each poster displays a clever phrase.

“This will help spread the word that the proper way to dispose of pet waste is not to flush or bury it, especially for those of us living ‘in the county’ on septic systems,” Smith said.

Dog owners will be able to access the Shellfish Protection District Web site at by May 1. Poster templates will be perusable on the site.

“They can choose the one they would like their dog to star in,” Smith said.

The owners can then submit their template preference along with a jpeg photo of their dog and a short pet bio including any humorous anecdotes.

“We’ll insert the picture into the template, print the poster and display it at participating businesses,” Smith said. “They’ll also be displayed in our online gallery.” While funding for the posters is currently specific to the Freeland area, the watershed project manager said the county hopes to expand the project.

“We want to help ‘get the word out’ that it’s OK to put the poop in the garbage can, instead of burying it, or otherwise,” Smith said.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the Oct 22
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates