Poo problems: Tahoe Donner resident proposes solution for dog waste | SierraSun.com

Poo problems: Tahoe Donner resident proposes solution for dog waste

These "Dog Waste OK" magnets are designed to give dog walkers permission to deposit properly sealed dog waste bags into your bear box.

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Last winter, Tahoe Donner resident Christina Nemec found herself carrying bags of dog feces while her two dogs dragged her down slick, icy neighborhood streets.

Nemec had recently noticed how much dog waste was left behind in her neighborhood, so she took it upon herself to start picking it up.

She figured she was picking up after her own dogs anyway, so the extra trouble wasn't a big deal — until winter brought with it the peril of juggling leashes and poo bags on slippery streets with two excitable dogs.

"I just thought, there's got to be a better way," she said.

That's when Nemec came up with a solution — she thought that if dog walkers were able to use other residents' bear boxes to deposit pet waste, the Tahoe-Truckee region might have less of a poo problem.

She came up with the idea, dubbed "Keeping it Clean," of a magnet homeowners could put on their bear boxes that would let passersby know the homeowner is OK with waste being placed into their box.

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"I put the idea up on Next Door, and within like an hour, there were like 80 people who supported it," Nemec said.

She said from the responses on NextDoor.com, she was able to connect with other community members who helped her create and distribute the magnets.

'IT'S A REALLY BIG PROBLEM'

The Tahoe-Truckee region faces a unique challenge in managing pet waste, since a lot of visitors come here to vacation — and many don't realize the harm that dog feces can do to the environment, as well as possible health concerns.

The region also doesn't have trash bins on every corner, like many visitors from urban areas are used to.

"People think, 'Oh, it's just nature and I can leave it,' but with more and more people living here, it's a really big problem," Nemec said.

When dog waste is left behind, it can get washed into drainages and eventually find its way into Lake Tahoe, the Truckee River or other regional waters.

Feces can also sometimes carry disease-causing microbes, such as giardia. According to a 2008 study from the University of Nevada, Reno, if dog waste that contains disease-causing microbes enters the water, it may be harmful to people who swim in it.

Nemec said the response to her magnet idea has been mostly positive, but not everyone has welcomed the idea.

"Some people were really against it, but we couldn't figure out why," she said, adding that she thinks some residents are hesitant because they don't want to let strangers onto their property.

EMBARKING ON A REGIONAL EFFORT

Still, Nemec thinks the idea has the potential to improve dog waste management in neighborhoods all over the Tahoe-Truckee region.

"We're looking for sponsors in Incline or in Kings Beach that want to take on getting those communities involved," she said.

And Nemec has plenty of ideas to help the program grow.

"One thing I want to do is 'Let's Keep Christmas White," she said.

But right now, between working and being a parent, Nemec's just hoping other community members will want to get involved.

"It isn't for profit, and hopefully people will hear about it and it'll spread," she said.

The magnets are currently available for $1 at Ace Mountain Hardware & Sports at 11320 Donner Pass Road in Truckee; the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe at 10961 Stevens Lane in Truckee; and Snowtek at 17356 Northwoods Blvd. in Tahoe Donner.

According to Nemec, $1 is charged to keep up with production costs.

Get involved

Though there isn’t a website for the magnet project yet, you can find out more by emailing Christina Nemec at Christina@simplyworded.com.

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