Skip to main content

Midvale Journal

Scoop the poop at school playgrounds: ‘We’re not your dog park’

Jan 05, 2023 02:08PM ● By Julie Slama

Dog owners are to clean up after their pets after exercising them on Murray School District playgrounds. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

Near Murray, there are off-leash dog parks in Taylorsville, Sandy, Draper, West Jordan and Salt Lake City, to name a few, but dogs are not allowed off-leash in Murray School District’s playgrounds.

“People are here at the school, and they start out with their dogs on their leash and then they just let them go,” McMillan Elementary secretary Teresa Bigelow said. “If people would just clean up, it would be really lovely, but it's not happening. It's not just at McMillan. All of the schools in Murray, and probably everywhere, are having problems with it.”

In nearby Canyons School District, East Midvale Community Schools Facilitator Shelley McCall said pet owners not scooping the poop is a problem.

“We have a significant issue at East Midvale which flares its ugly head when kids step in it,” she said. “I had three students yesterday come into my office for new shoes and pants. We do have ‘No Dogs Allowed’ signs posted just because dog owners aren’t responsibly picking up after their dogs and the kids are paying the consequence.”

In Murray District, signs posted direct dog owners that their pet needs to be leashed and any feces should be immediately picked up.

Bigelow said in addition to health, safety and environmental concerns, it also is an emotional one.  

“When kids have stepped in it or they're playing ball and they fall in it, they usually end up with it on their shoes or clothes. It's pretty devastating when a student falls in it or it's all over their shoes. Kids don’t just say, ‘Eww, gross.’ It’s emotionally upsetting to them. They don't know they've stepped in it, then they come back into the classroom and it's on the carpet. Our custodians are having to clean carpets. Then, the kids need a change of clothes because it's all over their pants, so we help them; we have extra stuff here for them to change into. It involves all of us—the custodians, the principal, the teachers, me, whoever, needing to clean it up, and assuring the students it’s all going to be OK,” she said.

While Bigelow said the doogie doo has been a problem for a while, it has increased the past few years. The situation also isn’t just a neighbor or two allowing their dogs off leash either, she said. 

“People will drive up, park their cars and get out and let their dogs roam. Murray doesn't have a dog park so there are not a lot of places for people that live in apartment complexes and different places like that to take their dogs and let them off the leash. They throw the ball way out in the field and there's no way for them to possibly be able to see where their dogs go every single time. It would be one thing if they just cleaned up, but they’re not,” Bigelow said, who owns a dog herself. “This is not a dog park. We want to make the public aware so hopefully, we'll have a few less kids sliding in it. All we ask is to be responsible dog owners and clean up.”