Doo good in Woodbury

by Stephanie Wang and Linda Neilson

Spring is a great time to get outside, except when you have to watch your step in your yard, on the sidewalks and in the parks for the occasional dog dropping. Most would agree that dog droppings are smelly and gross. It ranks as one of the top complaints received by staff members from the City of Woodbury’s Environment and Parks Departments.

To address the issue, Master Water Stewards Stephanie Wang and Linda Neilson attended the Central Bark Pet Expo in Woodbury on February 18, 2017, to talk to attendees about picking up and properly disposing of dog “doo” in order to help improve water quality.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the typical dog excretes three quarters of a pound of waste per day — or 274 pounds per year. About a third of Minnesotan households own dogs, a total of over 930,000 dogs.[1] In one year Minnesotan dogs will produce over 120,000 TONS of waste, a mass exceeding the total weight of 65,00 typical school buses each weighing 18 tons.


Unfortunately, allowing dog waste to decompose where it falls is a problem, even if it’s on your yard. Dog waste carries viruses, bacteria and parasites that can transmit disease to humans and pets. A day’s waste from a typical dog can contain 7.8 billion fecal coliform bacteria as well as host Giardia and Salmonella.[1] Melting snow or heavy rainfall eventually washes dog waste left in yards, parks and on sidewalks directly into our lakes, streams and wetlands. Once in our waterways, the dog waste, which is high in nitrogen and phosphorus, promotes aquatic plant and algae growth. 


The “Doo Good” message focused on picking up after your pet to protect our lakes, streams, wetlands and the health of both humans and pets. Master Water Stewards Linda Neilson and Stephanie Wang created a poster and tags reinforcing this message and developed a plan to engage people at the Woodbury Pet Expo in order to actively engage people of all ages. 


Stephanie engages participants of all ages.

They asked adult pet owners to mark where they walk their dog using a dot on a Woodbury map and then to write down one idea about how to motivate everyone to pick up dog waste. In exchange for their input, the participant received a Milk Bone tagged with “Doo Good” reminders and a dog waste bag. The bag giveaway provided a chance to role play handing a spare bag to a fellow pet owner while saying “Do you need a bag?” to prevent them from walking away from their pet’s waste.

The team also offered cat stickers to passing children. They encouraged children to think about how snowmelt or rain flows across yards and down the street, carrying trash like dog waste into the storm drain and directly into a water body without treatment using the “Your Street Connects to Lakes & Rivers” display.

Activities that Worked Well during the Expo


  • Giving away Milk Bones to people who provided input at the table by answering where they walk their pet and what they think could motivate people to pick up pet waste.
  • Handing out Milk Bones to vendors at the other tables and encouraging them to stop by the Doggy Doo table.
  • Talking with children about where the water from the snow melt ultimately ends up using the East Metro Water Resources Education Program display.
  • Poop bags were not the greatest hit. However, they were useful for demonstrating how one could hand an extra bag to a pet owner and ask “Do you need a bag?” to prevent them from walking away without cleaning up their pet’s waste.




Some Interesting Comments from Attendees
    • Because dog waste is biodegradable, several people noted that they felt bad about putting it in plastic bags for disposal. Note: Perhaps people aren’t aware of the bacteria introduced from pet waste. This was another educational opportunity. 



    • Some homeowners associations supply poop bags for their residents at a minimal cost of less than $2 per year to pay for poop bags.



    • Some participants mentioned that more signs are needed to point out it is okay to throw bagged pet waste in trash cans.



    • It was suggested that more dog waste stations with bags are needed as there are not enough trash bins.



    • A few attendees mentioned that their mothers taught them to pick up after their dogs and suggested running a “Mom’s Campaign”.



    • Some believed that male dog walkers more often fail to pick up animal waste.



  • Based on remarks during the expo, it seems that many don’t clean up frequently, especially in the winter, but feel that their pet is not contributing to the problem. Note: This can be another potential educational opportunity.
  • Some suggested that corporate sponsors be obtained to offset the cost of providing poop bag stations in public parks. The Manager of Woodbury Animal Hospital was quite interested in this possibility.
  • Some homeowners associations are working with the city on installing dog stations and trash cans.

    Master Water Steward Linda Nielson
    with her dog Annie out for a walk
    around Langton Lake in Roseville.

    All parks should have dog bags. Some
    specific examples noted in Woodbury were:

    Dancing Waters Fish Lake is 90% improved.

    Carver Lake Trails needs dog bags.

    Park Hills neighborhood needs stations.

    Wedgewood needs consistent clean-up.

    Park Hills needs poop stations along paths.

    Bluegill Trail is very well taken cared for.Carver Lake’s newest residents need to be educated and get reminders.

At the end of the four-hour Woodbury Pet Expo, the Master Water Steward team relaxed and reflected on their achievements. With the support of Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District staff, they had created a low-cost campaign reaching over 84 adults and 45 children at this one-day event.
How can you be a “Doo Gooder?”
  1. Be prepared! Always carry poop bags with you.
  2. Bring extra bags so you don’t run out or so you can help someone in need.
  3. Put the bag in a trash can.
  4. Never leave a bag on the trail – there’s nobody designated to pick it up!
  5. Pick it up at home (or hire someone to do it) to keep your yard healthy and to protect lakes, stream and wetlands.

For a copy of the printed materials to use in your own outreach, contact RWMWD at 651-792-7950. 


[1]“Pollution Prevention Fact Sheet: Animal Waste Collection.”

[1]Chin, Richard. “Minnesota’s pet ownership goes to the dogs.” Pioneer Press, 3 Jan. 2013.