The city of Frederick will study ways to get residents to scoop their pet's poop.
The Board of Aldermen approved at its Thursday meeting a $20,000 grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust to research why people don't pick up after their pets and then develop a program to encourage them to do so.
As part of the research, the city will evaluate its current programs and determine whether more trash cans or pet waste bag dispensers might help.
Joe Adkins, deputy director of the planning department, said the grant will be used to create a public relations program and that the city will apply for grant funding to implement the program next year.
"Hopefully, this will address why people aren't picking up their pet waste," he said in a phone interview.
Improperly discarded pet waste is not only unseemly but also can spread diseases and parasites. Feces is also high in nitrogen, which feeds algae blooms and endangers the health of the Chesapeake Bay. The program should help reduce the amount of nitrogen going from Frederick to the bay, Adkins said.
The average dog leaves behind about three-quarters of a pound of waste each day, Adkins said, speaking at the city meeting.
"If you add that up with all the dogs in the city, it's quite a load," he said.
The number of licensed dogs in Frederick was unavailable Friday, but there are about 4,800 licensed dogs across Frederick County, according to Animal Control.
This study will not be the first time the city has tackled the poop problem.
Area merchants and the Downtown Frederick Partnership partnered to install seven waste bag dispensers downtown.
Unique Optique owner Maria Higgins played a large role in spearheading the pilot project, which will expand to include 10 more dispensers soon.
Flying Dog Brewery bought the dispensers, and CARE Veterinary Center will be responsible for bag refills.
Higgins said she believes that pet waste has become a problem in Frederick, but the bag dispensers seem to be helping.
"I think the availability of bags is key," she said.
Higgins has listened to ideas such as making it easier to issue a citation for leaving waste in the street, but she wasn't so sure how feasible that would be.
Follow Kelsi Loos on Twitter: @KelsiFNP.