A partnership of PetFocus (Westwood Hills) and SMBARTA
Use of the SMB Rails to Trails corridor has increased – hikers, bikers and equestrians are all enjoying the trails and the number of people out with their furry canine companions is also growing. This is good news… except that where there are dogs, there are often the little piles of waste left behind! In response to the increased amount of dog waste spotted on the trail, the St. Margaret’s Bay Area Rails to Trails Association, SMBARTA, and PetFocus Veterinary Group at the Westwood Veterinary Hospital have partnered to support responsible pet ownership and a cleaner community trail system.
The PetFocus location in Westwood Hills has a history of supporting responsible owners by providing “dog poop bag dispensers” in various community locations. Now, SMBARTA and PetFocus are delighted to announce the expansion of that program which will see dispensers installed at a number of trail entrances on the SMB Rails to Trails system. This will be a pilot project of one year and if all goes well, more dispensers will be added along the trail. Dr. Don Rushton, a veterinarian at Westwood Hills, says that PetFocus is thrilled to be partnering with SMBARTA to develop greater awareness of the importance of responsible pet ownership – “anything we can do to support active, healthy lifestyles for pets and their owners is a positive for our organization. Picking up after your pet is a key part of that healthy approach. Not only is it responsible to clean up after your own pet, but the health benefits related to the limiting of the spread of worms and disease to other animals is of critical concern.”
SMBARTA volunteers will be installing the new dispensers at some trail entrances, and over the next few months will be adding signage indicating that users must pick up after their pets. – “Owners will have convenient access to bags so they can collect and remove dog waste from the trail. Owners will be expected to take the dog waste with them to dispose of elsewhere. We ask that people do not throw these bags into the trees or in ditches. Our trail has become a draw for many visitors to our area and use of the trail by our community is increasing. We all need to take responsibility to keep our trail and our pets healthy.” says Mary Lou Robertson, Co-chair, SMBARTA.
This partnership is the first structured program of its kind for education and support for pet owners – it is hoped that it may serve as a model for other trails. PetFocus at Westwood Hills is also sponsoring a “Tails on the Rails” event on October 21st- this year’s event, which is in support of the Animal Rescue Coalition, will mark the launch of the new program. Interested dogs and their humans should come to the walk at 10:00 a.m. at the trail head behind the Bike and Bean – “bags” provided! For more info on the Clean Trails initiative, go to www.stmargaretsbaytrails.com.