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July 15, 2007
One Less Chore to Worry About, and More Time to Spend With the Dog
By MARCELLE S. FISCHLER
THEY acknowledge that someone has to do it. But cleaning up after Coral, their Australian cattle dog, is not at the top of Eric and Donna Hall’s list of priorities.
“We have responsibilities as husband and wife to spend time together, and we have a child,” said Mr. Hall, who commutes from his home here to Manhattan for his work as chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. He also travels an average of two days a week for his job. Mrs. Hall is a medical receptionist for a cardiologist in Lake Success. “Who has time to walk around and scoop?” Mr. Hall asked.
The Halls have a gardener to tend their yard and a housekeeper to keep their house tidy and baby-sit their year-old son, Arthur. Last year they hired a dog waste cleanup service for Coral.
The chore “is an unpleasant part of owning a pet,” Mr. Hall said.
Once a week, Jim Coniglione, the owner of Scoopy Doo, based in Glen Cove, scours the Halls’ backyard, rake and plastic bag-lined scooper in hand.
“We walk the yard in a grid pattern like the F.B.I.,” said Mr. Coniglione, whose company scoops for about 500 dog owners across the Island.
At a cost of $10 for one dog and an average-size yard, Mr. Coniglione said the service has helped bring many a family argument to a halt.
“The kids never want to do it; the parents are too busy,” Mr. Coniglione said. “Or the kids want to go out and play in the yard and the wife is yelling at the husband, ‘You didn’t scoop, they can’t play.’ ”
Another of his Glen Cove customers is Helene Suozzi, who works in the office of a camp management company and is married to the Nassau County executive, Thomas R. Suozzi. She said she has one less chore to worry about now that Mr. Coniglione cleans up after the family’s black Labrador, Garnet. With three children, ages 4, 9 and 12, there is “a lot of outdoor activity,” she said.
“It’s always a fear that you have that someone is going to step in it,” Mrs. Suozzi said. “Guess whose job it would be to clean it up?”
A number of dog waste removal services have sprung up on the Island in the past few years, part of a boom among pet-related service businesses. Since the national Association of Professional Animal Waste Specialists was founded in 2002 with a dozen members, 175 more companies have joined.
Nicole Guzman and Dar Finlayson, owners of the 2-year-old company Happy Paws in Kings Park, pick up after other people’s pets in addition to dog walking and pet-sitting.
“During our regular pooper scooper route, we will incorporate our dog walk into it,” Ms. Guzman said.
According to the animal waste association, dog feces are not simply a nuisance; they also pose a health hazard. Left on the ground, the waste can contaminate water supplies. It can also transmit parasites, Ms. Guzman said.
Ron Vecchio, owner of Minesweepers, a dog waste pickup service based in Wantagh, said he cleans up after 300 dogs a week. His clients include Buddy, a golden Labrador that belongs to Melissa Benkin, 41, of Garden City, an office technician for Verizon.
“I don’t have the stomach for it,” Ms. Benkin said.
She wants to keep the yard clean so that her 4-year-old daughter, Ashley, will not “step in the land mines” when she walks through the grass to her swing set.
Mr. Vecchio said that while most owners pick up after their dogs while walking them on other people’s lawns, “when it comes to their own yard, things get a little harder to keep after.” He disposes of the waste in a Dumpster, he said.
Since they started A Dog’s Business a little more than a year ago, Britta and Dennis Micic of Westbury have been signing up one or two new clients a week.
“It’s becoming the new landscaping service,” said Ms. Micic, a former teacher.
However, it has not resolved the Micics’ own problem: Who is going to pick up after Max, their 100-pound German shepherd?
“My husband and I are still arguing about that,” Ms. Micic said.
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