Wilmington pet owners can clean up or pay up

Reported by Gavin Johnson - bio|email
Posted by Kristy Ondo - email

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - When dogs are unleashed at the Empie Dog Park, their owners let them do basically whatever they want. 

However, they're no longer allowed to let them do their business without picking it up.

"It's definitely gross and unclean," said dog owner Meredith Lomasney.

City officials agree. Starting November 1, pet owners could be fined $250 dollars if they don't pick up after their pets.
"$250 sounds a little steep," said dog owner Marshall Mansolillo. "But that'll probably get people to go by the rules. When you hit people in their wallet, they tend to listen."
According to city officials, there have traditionally been no consequences for those who don't pick up after their pets, but now they're cracking down to help keep waterways clean.

Most dog owners who spoke with WECT said their fellow dog lovers should know better anyway, but they believe the new rule should help.

Also starting Sunday, pet owners will have to carry a cleaning device every time they take their pets out.

"That's a little ridiculous," said Mansolillo. "I mean, well, I guess you would need to clean it up somehow."

At some of the city's parks, yellow flags are now highlighting places where a dog has done its business without the owner picking it up.

Officials are hoping the flags will make it more visual for pet owners to see how much of a problem pet waste is in the community.