Rob Colombo doesn’t like to dump on dog owners.
But when irresponsible owners are letting their pets do the very same on the sports field used by Riverside secondary school’s rugby teams, he gets upset and concerned for the well-being of the young athletes.
“You can use your imagination,” said Colombo, the school’s athletic director, of the consequences when a ruck runs into a doggy deposit.
While the snows of late February and early March put a bit of a crimp in the preparation of the school’s boys and girls rugby teams, they also provided perfect cover for poop-and-scoop scofflaws, Colombo said.
And now that the snow has finally melted, he has to spend up to an hour before every practice walking back and forth across the field to clear it of canine eliminations. One such mission recently yielded 20 smelly mounds.
“That’s part of our pre-game routine,” Colombo said, adding once the season hits its stride following spring break, teams will be on the field every day after school, either playing a game or practising.
Coun. Glenn Pollock, Port Coquitlam council’s designate for its healthy community committee, admits the snowy weather may have provided an excuse for irresponsible owners to leave their dog’s dirty deeds behind.
“Some dog owners may think that the snow will cover up the dog waste or that it will disappear with the snow melt, which isn’t the case,” he said.
Pollock said PoCo does everything it can to ensure people pick up after their pets, including posting signs throughout its parks, hosting education campaigns on its website and social media channels, and even having bylaw enforcement officers conduct occasional spot checks that can result in a fine of up to $150 for failing to clean up doggy deposits. There’s also dog waste bins and bags at several locations in the city where dogs tend to congregate.
Pollock said the addition of two additional off-leash areas at Skyline and Chelsea parks may also be an incentive to keep dog owners from running their pets on sports fields.
“We recognize dog owners need more places in the community to play off leash,” he said.
Meanwhile, Colombo hopes those dog owners who bring their dogs to Gates Park will give pause to think about the kids using the facility as well.
“They have to understand this is a sports park,” he said.