North Augusta man’s business stinks, but it’s picking up
NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (AP) — David Parks, as a veteran firefighter in Augusta, Georgia, sometimes faces risky duty. During the past decade, the North Augusta man has also drawn a mixture of laughter and appreciation relating to his side job, which can be labeled as “risky dooty.”
His side business, Call of Dooty, is dedicated to helping dog lovers enjoy their pets and deal with a little less mess. It is billed on his business card as a “pet waste removal service.”
“The last few years, it’s really been picking up — pun intended,” he said, pointing out that he has customers spread all the way from downtown Aiken to as far afield as Appling, Georgia, with Graniteville, North Augusta, Warrenville and Cedar Creek in the mix, and he’s looking to expand his outreach.
“Firemen always have multiple jobs. You’re 24 on and 48 off .. so they paint. They cut grass. They just do odd jobs. I’m allergic to grass, so grass-cutting was out. I tried the paint thing for a little while, but it’s just hard with one person. I was trying to find something I could do on my days off to supplement my income.”
He said his search, around 2008, led to a “pooper-scooper” convention in Atlanta, and now Parks is aiming to retire from the fire department in six years and shift fully into canine clean-up.
“I guess springtime is our best time of year,” he said, confirming that property owners tend to appreciate having a clean yard ready for kids’ playtime or for a grill to be fired up without any need to worry about pets’ surprises.
“If it wasn’t for us, some people wouldn’t have a dog ... They enjoy the pet, and we take care of the rest. Every kid wants a dog. Nobody wants to clean up after that dog, so I tell people, we keep the peace in the family.”
The arrangement is also helping Parks’ family, as shown financially in the case of his daughter, who is attending college in Charleston. “I told my daughter I am scooping her way through college,” he noted.
One advantage of the job, he said, is the chance to interact with friendly four-legged neighbors — sometimes one at a time, and sometimes in bunches. “I get to play with the dogs and move on to the next dog,” he said.
Parks, a Camden native who spent much of his childhood in Belvedere, also took aim at misconceptions about public health as it relates to pooches. “A lot of people say, ‘I don’t pick up after my dog. I let the rain wash it away,’ but all you’re doing is, you’re spreading disease. Eventually it just soaks into groundwater. You don’t want feces getting into your groundwater, so really, we’re doing a service.”
He cited the example of an Aiken apartment complex where dog owners’ negligence has caused problems and led to phone contact with Call of Dooty, possibly to arrange for scoop service.
“A lot of people think, ‘I’ll just mow over my stuff. It goes away.’ No, it doesn’t. It just smashes it down and it’s harder to pick up,” Parks said.
Parks’ procedures include disinfecting his shoes and tools between house calls, to ensure he doesn’t facilitate the spread of disease.
Information from: Aiken Standard, http://www.aikenstandard.com