We love our dogs. They fill our lives with laughter and unconditional love. They also shed hair, scratch at the door and poop in the back yard. To me, that’s a pretty good deal, even if they’re more likely to drink from the toilet than flush it. Pet Butler was created to make life a little cleaner and safer for pets and their people. Of course, in order to do that, we must provide a fair wage for our employees and make a little profit besides. When we started in 1988, that seemed like a tall order. Today, more than 25 years later, we’ve shown that if we take care of our customers, our customers will take care of us.
One of the pleasures of running a small business is that as we earn respect and become part of our neighborhood, we meet others with the same goals. That’s how I met Emily and Pat West, who own and operate DogWatch of Columbus. I’ve known them for years. We have some customers in common. What I see and what I hear tells me that we share a commitment to Customer Service. Those aren’t just buzzwords in a mission statement. Customer Service is what both our companies offer, despite our different approaches.
When Emily contacted me with questions about the poop scooping business, I was happy to help.
Q - What should you look for in a pooper scooper service?
A - Anyone can pick up dog waste. If the job isn’t done well with the right tools, you’re liable to pick some up on your shoe and track it into the house. A good service is reliable. We care about doing the job well, time after time. That’s how Pet Butler keeps so many of our customers for many years. Price is important, of course. The question is, do you want the cheapest, or is it worth a little more to get the best value? Reputation is earned by providing quality work over time. Ask your friends, neighbors and pet professionals before you choose. Check with the Better Business Bureau and Angie’s List. Is pet rescue important to you? Ask your favorite rescue which companies truly support them. A good company has roots in your community.
Q - How often should the service come and pick up?
A - We serve most of our customers once each week. Most dogs leave two or three piles every day, when fed a healthy diet. That’s fifteen to twenty a week for just one dog. Before long, things begin “piling up” in your back yard.
Of course, this decision is up to you. If you just need a little help catching up after a long cold winter, we offer One Time Cleaning. If you want the very best, Twice a Week Cleaning is available in most of Central Ohio and Three Times a Week service is available in limited areas.
Q - What do you do with all that poop?
A - Dog waste is not just smelly and unpleasant. Unless it is cleaned up, it washes into streams and lakes and pollutes them. It’s important to pick that nasty mess up and dispose of it so it won’t wash into the environment.
Proper disposal in an EPA approved landfill is the safest and most affordable means of disposal. Approved landfills are sealed to prevent contents of leaking into ground water. Pet Butler disposes pet waste legally and responsibly in a landfill. Beginning in 2013, we began a pilot program to convert pet waste to clean natural gas. Utilizing a local commercial anaerobic digester, we have converted hundreds of pounds of waste into a useful product. Our goal, by late spring or early summer, is to convert at least one ton of pet waste per month. We call it Pet Butler’s Poop to Power Project. It’s a silly name for a serious effort.
Q - What are your feelings regarding pet waste composts?
A - Besides bacteria, pet waste may contain disease causing organisms and parasites. Since most composting systems don’t get hot enough to kill them, any system that allows water to flow into and out of the compost will allow these hazards to spread. A surface composter or unlined hole in the ground may allow the spread of harmful organisms. You certainly don’t want compost containing pet waste in your garden or where you, your kids or your pet may come in contact with it. Many municipal compost systems will not accept pet waste. We generally find composting does not meet our standard of safety.
Q - What have you found to be the best pooper scooper piece of equipment?
A - The right tool for the job is the tool that works best. When I’m walking my dog, that means my hand inside a plastic bag. Even though I’ve picked up over three million piles of poop (yes, you read that right), I still find this unpleasant. Plastic bags do fit in my pocket, however. My long handled professional tools are awkward for a quick walk with my beagle.
Every pet waste tool we saw in the stores was impractical for cleaning large amounts of waste cleanly and quickly. We took existing tools and modified them for our needs. These days, you can purchase a long handled pan and rake set that is a crude, smaller version of the tools we use.
At the ridiculous and expensive end of the spectrum are poop vacuums, power augers and other complicated tools that are just not practical. If I had a dollar for every ad I’ve seen that promised to “revolutionize the way you scoop poop”, I would have enough money to buy a few sets of tools that really worked.
Q - How can you spot poop amongst melting snow?
A - Fresh snow is a problem for us, since we need to see to be able to scoop poop. After a few days or significant melting, we can begin cleaning yards again. Dog waste is very visible on top of snow and sometimes we can see it under a thin layer of snow and ice. We are frustrated every winter but we do our best, and the overwhelming majority of our customers are patient and understanding in difficult weather. After all, poop doesn’t melt away and they know we’ll keep at it until we get the job done.
Q - I’ve heard you tell dozens of stories. What’s your favorite?
A - Find me at any pet rescue event, and I’ll be happy to tell stories. One of my favorites is about how pets and their people become alike. Anyone who knows Miniature Schnauzers knows that they tend to be energetic little dogs and a little noisy. One of our customers had one who followed me through the yard, barking the entire time I was there. He always barked in the same pattern. “Arf - pause - arf arf arf - pause - arf” One day, the owner came out to quiet the dog. “No! - pause - no no no- pause - no!” I’m not sure who trained whom.
Q - Which breed creates the biggest piles? Smallest piles?
A - As you can imagine, the general rule is “Big Dog, Big Mess”. Great Danes and Mastiffs leave some pretty impressive piles. Even though the scoop gets heavy, those breeds are still easier to clean up after than the toy breeds. Tiny piles are hard to see and it takes longer to clean up after a couple of Chihuahuas than a pair of Golden Retrievers. It’s interesting that some breeds seem to leave more piles, like Labs and Basset Hounds. That knowledge led me to one of my favorite jokes.
What does Pet Butler call two Labs in one yard?
Q - What else would you like to share?
A - We all lead busy lives these days. Even when we find the time, nobody really likes a big hand full of dog poop. You have better things to do with your time. Less mess? Less stress! Pet Butler - We Scoop Poop! The best tool to get your yard cleaned just might be your smart phone.
Visit PetButler.com or call 1-800-PET-BUTLER
Pete Hulse owns and operates Pet Butler of Central Ohio. He makes his home in Columbus with his wife Hewitt, Ruby the WonderBeagle and three silly cats.