When it comes to doggie-do, at least one Surrey educator has a blunt message for pet owners: Don’t.
Cindrich Elementary School Vice-Prinicipal Lianne McBride spends up to two hours a day patrolling her school grounds.
But she’s not on the lookout for unsavoury characters or dealing with aggressive students on the playground during recess. She’s spending that time carrying around a shovel and a plastic grocery bag, and collecting shovelful after shovelful of dog poop.
Every day before classes begin, McBride walks the perimeter of the school’s playgrounds and outdoor common areas and collects up to two bags of dog feces. She’s nearing her wit’s end.
Despite sending out numerous notices to parents in the school newsletter and posting signage on school property, the problem of pet owners not picking up dog waste persists.
“I have two boys of my own so I can pretty much deal with anything,” said the frustrated teacher and administrator. “I can deal with vomit, dirt… you name it, but this is just gross.”
And the ick factor is not confined to the outdoors. The real problems begin when unknowing students either slip and fall in the feces or track it into the classroom, where it becomes a serious health hazard.
Just last week a student came into the school with feces on their clothing and got it on the classroom carpet.
“This student was very upset and we didn’t have a custodian on that day, so there I was with wet wipes trying to get the poop and smell out of the carpet,” said McBride.
“I really think it’s people who don’t have kids going to this school who come with their dogs early in the morning and let the dogs off-leash,” she said. “It really bugs me that they don’t care, because our motto here at the school is we take care of ourselves, others and this place and these people are disrespecting that.”
A few years ago, Cindrich Elementary (located at 13455 90 Ave.) began an adopt-a-block program and students and staff started cleaning up the neighbourhood, hoping their example would spur others to get on board and take more pride in their surroundings. But the school still gets dumped on.
“We’re teaching kids to care,” McBride said. “How come these people aren’t being better role models?”
Although the dog waste issue persists throughout he school year, McBride believes the problems have been amplified recently with all the snow on the ground. As the snow begins to melt, the feces are left on the surface.
“We’ve spoken to our police liaison officer, but it’s constant, and our custodial staff is already stretched to the limit,” she said.
Surrey School District spokesperson Doug Strachan said unwanted dog waste has been a recurring theme at many schools in Surrey over the years, and said education, signage and community pride are the only effective ways to get the message across.
“We do have a school district bylaw that states no dogs or motorized vehicles on school grounds, but that order is often ignored,” he said.
According to the bylaw, “no person shall permit any animal under their ownership or custody to be ridden or to run at large on school district property at any time or allow domestic pets to befoul school property.”
Violations can mean a fine of between $50 and $2,000.
For McBride, her message is simple.
“Please clean up after your dog. That’s all we’re asking.”