Green flies are munching on this delectable wad of poop found on the gravel hiking path at Wildcat Park in Joplin. While the culprit was no longer in the picture, it could have been one of more than a half dozen dogs that were being walked on the trail. (Photo by Steve Timme)
The sky was cloudless. A soft breeze kissed the leaves. Occasionally a tiny animal rustled the ground cover as I walked by. A Killdeer pulled its broken wing trick on me diverting attention from the four eggs she had been guarding carefully camouflaged within some stones. Many species of wildflowers popped up between the greenery. The Wildcat Park trail offered several opportunities to appreciate nature.
But there were major distractions to my enjoying the trail and they concerned dog owners and their dogs. Some were standing four abreast blocking the trail, a young girl was meekly reining in a pit bull causing me to give them a wide berth, and the pièce de résistance was the dog owner holding the leashes of three large dogs talking with his friends, all standing in front of the trail guide sign that the Department of Natural Resources had erected. It said no bicycles, no joggers, no horses, and no pets--meaning NO DOGS.
Well, we know what kind of an enforcement agency the DNR is...but what will the City of Joplin or the folks running the Wildcat Glades Conservation & Audubon Center do to keep visitors' shoes clean? to make the trails safe for cynophobiacs? and, perhaps, to appease the dog lovers by setting aside an area OFF THE TRAIL as a doggie park?
Something must be done. While a pooper-scooper law would be great, it needs the cooperation of dog owners and a major degree of enforcement. Dogs don't belong on a walking trail. Give me a taser and a badge...I'll have a go at the enforcement part.....