West Seattle woman launches Poogooder to ‘do some good’ – a solution to ‘dog-poo wars’ and ‘wasted waste’

A West Seattle woman has launched what she hopes will be a solution to the acrimony that is so often set off by the subject of dog waste – and ultimately a solution to its environmental effects. Lori Kothe has hatched the plan for Poogooder. After she mentioned it on Twitter, we invited her to email us so we could share the concept with you. Here’s her story:

My daughter Annika is a 3rd grader at Alki Elementary. Back when she started kindergarten, I was shocked to discover the massive “wayward” dog-poo issue around Alki Elementary and the beach. Dog poo was everywhere, and we were always at risk of stepping in some. So I started recording how many instances I’d find when I’d walk to the beach from the school and back to my car each morning. I talked to people with and without dogs about their poo stories. And EVERYONE had a poo story. I did research. Dog=poo wars are no joke — they cause crazy levels of neighborhood angst, pollute waterways and soil, spread disease, and ruin a person’s day if they step in some. But it’s still a persistent issue.

So I decided to do something about it with the hope of at least creating greater awareness and empathy so people might care more about their (often unintended) impact on each other, the shared community, and planet (that’s truly my bigger purpose and goal here, which is why the tagline is “Let’s do some good today.”).

On a grander scale, unfortunately right now in Seattle, “properly disposed of” tons of dog poo goes to the landfill, so if we can get people to start paying more attention to how and where they are disposing of dog poo, my hope is Poogooder becomes a catalyst for local governments to start implementing dog-poo composting capabilities (or other landfill-diverting solutions), ultimately making dog poo go from being a bane to a boon for society.

Big ideas, I know. But we’re talking TONS of wasted waste and community uproar. So back to the story, literally: My original intent was just to write a picture book for kids and work with educators, local governments, shelters/rescues where people adopt dogs, and orgs to create a program around it to help instill empathy and raise awareness and inspire action and behavior change. So I wrote and illustrated Oh Poo! A Cautionary Tale,” which I self-published in June, and I thought that would be it. But then I figured I had to walk the walk, so to speak, and the Poogooder movement was born. First I put up 2 community dog poo bag dispensers near my home (49th Ave SW & Juneau in Seaview), and that was nice. People started using them. But then I realized I would truly have to commit to the cause and remove all barriers to proper dog-poo disposal, so in July I set up a community dog-poo bin in my front yard. I’d seen 2 others in West Seattle, which really impressed me. It’s funny to think how excited I was when I started getting poo in my bin! (This is 2020 after all, so everything is weird).

That’s when I decided to see if I could get others to steward nice-looking dog-poo bins & bag dispensers in their yards or nearby areas like Little Free Libraries, with the goal of recruiting 30 West Seattle volunteer Poogooders to steward bins the month of October for the first pilot program and collect learnings and see how things go. Ideally we then scale and partner with cities, orgs, schools, and shelters for a complete solution, including the city providing a voucher or free extra garbage can to offset Poogooder personal costs/garbage space for collecting poo in their bins. And of course, I’m hoping all shelters and rescues encourage a “Poogooder Pledge” as part of the adoption process to reframe the dog-poo conversation from a punitive action to a positive purpose. I’m not sure yet what kind of business model this will turn into or how it will be funded; my goal right now is proof of concept and inspiring a movement.

The Poogooder Approach:
Empathize > Engage > Educate > Enlighten > Enable

I’m just getting started. I’ve recruited about a dozen West Seattleites, with 5 confirming they will steward bins for the pilot so far, and interest is growing. I’m paying for everything out-of-pocket right now (and I’m woefully unemployed), which is why I set up the GoFundMe page, but I want there to be as little barrier to entry as possible at first so we can prove that people will actually willingly accept other people’s dog poo for the sake of the greater good.

I’m seeking volunteers, partners, sponsors, stewards, advisors, and connections to help bring this to fruition.

One way to help is via Lori’s crowdfunding page. You also can contact her via the link on the Poogooder home page.

28 Replies to "West Seattle woman launches Poogooder to 'do some good' - a solution to 'dog-poo wars' and 'wasted waste'"

  • two paws up September 10, 2020 (12:58 pm)

    you are a rockstar! i’m a dog owner on the west facing side of pigeon point who regularly walks harbor ave/the alki trail between salty’s and alki beach. i occasionally see full poo bags left behind or someone (is like to think) who’s run out of bags while on a walk. i LOVE your idea and applaud your efforts! thank you so much for investing the time and having the passion to make our peninsula and the world a better place!

  • lowmanbeachdrive September 10, 2020 (1:15 pm)

    How wonderful!  How lucky we are to have such brilliant creative minds in our neighborhood that are willing to funnel that some of that brilliance into something for our greater good. Thank you, Lori!  How generous of you.  I just donated and hope others will also.  

  • Belvidere September 10, 2020 (2:15 pm)

    I really appreciate this idea! And I would love better options for disposal. No one likes carrying a bag of stinky poo around on a long walk! Also apologies to The Belvidere neighborhood if our dog ever leaves a wet poo near your house. We do our best to clean them up…. but walks really loosen him up! 

  • Rick September 10, 2020 (2:22 pm)

    “Join the movement!” I love irony.

  • John W September 10, 2020 (3:25 pm)

    Great idea.  I would support one in front of our house. It is my understanding that we are not to place dog or animal waste in our city compost bins.  I assume this is due to the plastic poop bags. After reading about  Poogooder, I am confused about where the poo ends up?  Is there  a special place other than the compost and land-fill to empty these poo bins?

    • Poogooder September 10, 2020 (5:05 pm)

      Currently Seattle asks that dog poo be placed in tied bags into GARBAGE not compost or recycling, even if it is in a compostable bag (due to facility capabilities not plastic bags) which further adds to the confusion when bags are marketed as compostable, hence the need for localized education since every city is different. Volunteer Poogooder bin stewards will empty the bins into their private garbage cans until a better solution becomes available. There are private companies that collect and compost dog poo, so it will be exciting to see where this goes, so to speak. ;) 

    • Vic September 11, 2020 (11:05 am)

      The “compostable” bags are biodegradeable, meaning they won’t live in a landfill for 100+ years. But animal waste is always garbage, and never allowed in city compost :) we add chicken poop to our personal compost pile, but not city bins.

  • Poogooder September 10, 2020 (3:29 pm)

    Thank you WSB for sharing my story! :) This will truly take a village (many, actually), so I appreciate any support, sharing, insights and ideas you all might have. I want to hear all perspectives so we can better understand how to celebrate and take better care of the literal common ground we share. Visit poogooder.com to get involved!
    Lori Kothe
    Poogooder Founder

  • Rick September 10, 2020 (3:50 pm)

    “Join the movement!” I love the irony.

  • Sarah September 10, 2020 (4:00 pm)

    There are few front yards around me (Genesee area) that have poo bins in them. They are a great resource on longer walls from home, so I don’t have to carry my 100# and 40# dog bombs with me. I would love to help with this!  

  • OnGraham September 10, 2020 (4:10 pm)

    Thank you for taking action on what is obviously a hot topic (and a big pet peeve of mine, too)! I’m inspired by your effort to not just gripe but to solve the problem. Love the first steps you are taking, and the big vision to get the city/community on board to tackle what is really an ignored public health and pollution issue. Whey do we manage every other kind of waste in our city so well, but dog poop…..ah, just leave it in the grass somewhere. I’ll be sure to pitch in to the Go Fund Me, many thanks!

  • Cat poo September 10, 2020 (4:14 pm)

    I agree that dog poo is a problem. Keep in mind that not all poo is from a dog. There are lots of outdoor cats that poo in the same places as dogs. At least 3 times a week a cat poops in the middle of my yard (front & back). I’ve seen it hapoen and it looks like dog poo. And wildlife poops too. Great idea for poogooder! Thanks!

  • Paul September 10, 2020 (4:27 pm)

    Good idea and thank you. I think the issue is lazy dog owners. Responsible dog owners know to clean up after their pet. 

  • valvashon September 10, 2020 (5:12 pm)

    But you do have a 40# and 100# dog, or maybe even just a 20 pounder, so it is your responsibility to carry that dog waste home, no matter how far it is, in the absence of a poo bin or a not full and overflowing public garbage can, such as at a park.  It’s not OK to set your dog poo on that little ledge next to an overflowing public bin, that super tiny garbage can at a bus stop or my Lilliputian SPU garbage can.  I shouldn’t have to hide my garbage can in the garage or up on the deck because you can’t be inconvenienced bringing your pet’s waste home for proper disposal.  If you can’t be bothered with having to do this if there is not a responsible alternative, may I suggest an aquarium.

    • West Seattle Dad September 11, 2020 (10:33 am)

      Well said! If I leave my waste bin out for more than 30 mins after the garbage is picked up it has a few poop bags from lazy people who can’t be bothered to carry their poop home. My waste bin is not for public use and if you don’t want to carry poop for any distance don’t own a dog. I love this idea of providing bags, I have been on walks with my dog and ran out of bags and had to go home and come back to pick up my dogs waste. You have inspired me to put one of these in front of my house as we have a number of neighbors (if you call them that) who don’t feel the need to clean up after their pets. 

  • flimflam September 10, 2020 (5:20 pm)

    I wouldn’t really say there is a “war”, it’s more like “how can we deal with feces that others decide to leave around”.

  • AB83 September 10, 2020 (5:51 pm)

    Cool idea 👍🏻 Just hope they don’t end up in my trashcan on trash day.

  • John September 10, 2020 (6:35 pm)

    Now if dog owners would take their filled poop bags with them instead of leaving them on the ground for all to enjoy.     There’s some blackberry bushes near my home.  The dog owners love to toss their poop bags in the bushes.  I went out and removed 23 of them about 2 years ago. Everyday I see filled poop bags during my Covid walks…. Losing respect for dog owners.

  • JGM September 10, 2020 (7:34 pm)

    Dog poo is trash. Due to dogs high protein diets, their poo isn’t good for fertilizing like, lets say, cow manure, which is the result of a grain diet. Therefore, compostable bags are great for obvious reasons, but once full of doggy doo, they go in the trash can.

  • Auntie September 10, 2020 (7:52 pm)

    What about the mounted police that mosey through Westcrest and other parks, leaving the biggest poo of them all?!? Why aren’t they required to scoop their poop… one wonders.

    • WSB September 10, 2020 (8:08 pm)

      If you’re concerned about that, MIGHT not be an issue much longer as that’s one of the specialty units the City Council wanted to cut (no cuts are in effect so far because of the mayor’s veto, which the council will not consider overriding any sooner than 9/21).

  • Uncle Ron September 10, 2020 (8:01 pm)

    I would think the city could provide extra garbage cans around the Alki  neighborhood given all the visitors we have. However, I’m interested in creating my own depository as it were.

  • K September 10, 2020 (8:41 pm)

    There is a company that collects and treats dog poop: https://greenpetcompanies.com/our-process-clean-and-safe/

  • jimf909 September 10, 2020 (11:03 pm)

    I love dogs. I dislike dog guardians who are short sighted inconsiderate neighbors who didn’t plan on transporting their dog’s smelly waste home with them on their walks. Note: Your dog craps off of your property means you collect the crap and take it home with you. Simple. Just poo it.

  • anonyme September 11, 2020 (7:18 am)

    There is a home septic system for dog poo called Doggie Dooley, but it would not help with the problem of getting the poo home.  I’m worried that this approach will encourage more lazy dog owners to put their poo in other people’s garbage cans.  It’s weird, I had a large dog (deceased) and never once left poo for someone else to clean up.  Never once let her off-leash, unless in a designated area.  There’s this antiquated concept called responsibility.  Why must people be cajoled like children into fulfilling a legal and ethical obligation?

  • Bob September 11, 2020 (8:19 am)

    Here in Bothell, all city parks have poo bag dispensers that invite folks to take one if the need one and leave one if they have one. They are usually stuffed with donated bags. If plastic bags are going to end up in a land fill anyway, it may as well have some poo in it. 

  • LP September 11, 2020 (9:18 am)

    First, I would like to say, this is a great approach to an ongoing issue in every neighborhood. We have had a “Doggie Dooley” (a “waste digester” in our yard for dog poop) for 10 years. This is a great solution if you have a yard. It would awesome if there was a similar community solution.Second, I think the fact that this is an issue at all shows that it is individual mindset and selfishness at work. I live up the street from a small park that always has a supply of poop bags for use, and a garbage can right next to it. Yet, there are still plenty of people that leave their dog’s waste on the ground. Unfortunately, there will always be these types, and proves no matter how easy you make it for people to behave responsibly and neighborly, some just don’t care. I hope this model/idea finds traction citywide, and beyond. I would definitely volunteer my yard space for this. 

  • Kaitlin S. September 13, 2020 (12:01 pm)

    I live in west seattle and I use a wheelchair to get around. I can’t tell you how many times I have gotten dog poop on my bare hands, arms, and sleeves. Some folks let their dogs poop right on the side walks, some folks don’t bother to carry bags, some folks will carry bags but refuse to use them. I hope that this at least minimizes the issue.  

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