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Making haste with waste: It's International Pooper Scooper Week

Celebration started here in the SCV, kicks off today

Posted: April 1, 2009 1:26 a.m.
Updated: April 1, 2009 4:59 a.m.

Two pugs follow Timothy Stone as he cleans up after them Tuesday morning. Today marks the beginning of International Pooper Scooper Week, which was started by the Association of Professional Animal Waste Specialists (aPaws) a group founded in the Santa Clarita Valley.

 
Their motto: "If your dog can poop it, we can scoop it."

For 10 years, Canyon Country couple Tim and Maria Stone have travelled the Santa Clarita and San Fernando valleys, teaming up to clean the messes of hundreds of pups.

When others can't quite understand why they do this job, Tim Stone asks, "why not?"

"People hire other people to clean their home, clean their pool ... so, why not?" he said. "It's just another convenience in people's lives to make it easier."

Believe it or not, the Stones are not alone in their business venture.

Today kicks off International Pooper Scooper Week, founded by the seven-year-old Association of Professional Animal Waste Specialists, or aPaws, which has grown from a handful of members at its origin to more than 300 members nationwide.

"We formed aPaws to build awareness of the pooper-scooper industry and give others in the industry a sense of belonging to an organization," said Tim Stone, one of the group's founders and its Treasurer.

In recognition of a growing problem in communities, one that affects the environment and local water tables, aPaws established the special week designed to educate pet owners about the importance of cleaning up after their dogs.

"It's kind of a joke but at the same time it's not a joke - it's real," Tim Stone said. "It'll get people wondering."

The American Pet Association estimates that the country's 71 million pet dogs produce more than 4.4 billion pounds of waste per year - enough to cover 900 football fields with 12 inches of dog waste.

"There are a lot of viruses and parasites found in dog poop," Tim Stone said. "A lot are pretty rare but the effect is still out there."

Roundworm is one common parasite transmitted via dog feces, according to an aPaws news release.

Members of the aPaws organization must adhere to a code of conduct, currently under construction.

"We agree to clean and disinfect our equipment in between stops, of course, not to mistreat animals and to be professional, basically," Tim Stone said.

He deposits the product that he gathers in the trash recepticles of the individual dog owners, he added.

The ex-welder had never scooped poop prior to 1988 but after three of his employers went belly-up one after another, Stone was looking for self-employment. He found his niche within the pooper-scooping market.

"Someone once wrote, if you want to start a business, find something that no one likes to do, do it and charge a price for it," Tim Stone said.

So in 1988, Stone formed his own business - Scoop Masters USA., Inc. and after some time, built up a local client base consisting of homeowner associations and individual homeowners.

"It was slow starting. I had only heard of one other company at the time," Stone said. "I had $65, I made some business cards, got some tools - a bucket and shovel, and the rest, as they say, is history.

"I think the most rewarding thing is talking about it, only because it's so bizarre," said Stone, also the author of "The Professional Scoop Master. "When you tell people, they don't believe you. If you can't have fun in this business, you shouldn't be doing it."

Employees came and went, and finally Tim Stone has found his ultimate pooper scooping companion - his wife, Maria Stone.

Maria quit her job as a nurse to help her husband with the business. After five years of working on her own route, Maria joined Tim in tackling up to 175 stops a week within the valley.

"I try to enjoy his company all the time," Maria Stone said.

APaws' Web site is www.apaws.org/.


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