Topping Town Manager Richard MacDonald’s to-do list for the New Year is to appoint a committee to deal with the problem of dog droppings in public areas.
On Monday, MacDonald told Duxbury selectmen he plans to appoint a “canine committee” at the selectmen’s January 9 meeting, which would investigate the extent of the problem and come up with a solution
The problem of excessive dog feces in the public areas around town where people walk their dogs has been on MacDonald’s agenda for a while. He noted one of the worst areas is Bay Farm field, which consists of 80 acres owned jointly by Duxbury, Kingston and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management.
MacDonald said when he went to Bay Farm field to learn more about the problem he walked no more than 100 feet when he was hit with the strong smell of dog feces. As he walked farther, he said he not could help but “dodge the droppings.”
“Then I walked out,” he said.
Duxbury bought 44 acres of the Bay Farm field in 1973. It is under the care of the Board of Selectmen and is not considered official conservation land. Bay Farm is frequented by dog walkers, bird watchers and fishermen as it ends at the Kingston Bay shoreline.
MacDonald said the problem is prevalent at other public dog walking areas such as town-owned cranberry bogs and around ponds in conservation areas. He brought the issue to the attention of selectmen last month after his office received many complaints.
The town has been battling the dog dropping issue for years. In 2002, town meeting voters approved a “pooper scooper” bylaw that made dog owners responsible for removing and disposing of dog feces on “any street, walkway, public place, or private property of another.” Violators of this bylaw receive a warning for the first offense and fines for further offenses.
The bylaw was enacted as a response to the problem of dog droppings at Bay Farm, along the Powder Point bridge, and elsewhere in town. Proponents said dog feces in public areas was more than a nuisance; it was also a public health hazard and posed a safety problem because it can cause people to slip and fall.
The town had hoped that passing the bylaw would help clean up the town but the problem still exists.