Dog Park Clean Up

Mike Greener/Chronicle

Volunteers advocates for off leash dog parks help clean up dog piles at Burke Park early Saturday morning in Bozeman. The event was hosted by the group Run Dog Run and drew over 36 volunteers.

An organizer dubbed Saturday’s event as “Bozeman’s least appealing volunteer opportunity,” but the dozen or so people who showed up didn’t seem to mind.

After all, the sun was shining, the sky was blue and the piles of dog poop were innumerable.

The event, organized by the local nonprofit Run Dog Run, solicited volunteers to spend a beautiful Saturday morning picking up dog droppings on Peets Hill in Bozeman.

For Run Dog Run, which advocates for more off-leash opportunities for dogs in Bozeman, the park cleanup was the first of its kind.

“As part of that mission, we believe in taking care of our current off-leash opportunities and reminding dog owners that this is a privilege,” said Terry Cunningham, Run Dog Run founder.

An enthusiastic crew showed up, grabbing pooper-scoopers, shovels, plastic bags and buckets and hit then the hill, scouring for scat. Scoopers received a free T-shirt or leash for their efforts.

Saturday’s volunteers were addressing something that Cunningham said is a problem in Bozeman parks — people not picking up after their pets.

“It’s especially a problem when the snow melts,” Cunningham said. “It was a doggie mine field.”

That’s especially frustrating in a park like Burke Park that has four dog-waste stations on a one-mile trail.

“Not (cleaning up) is irresponsible,” Cunningham said.

Penelope Pierce of the Gallatin Valley Land Trust was at Peets Hill to lend a hand to Saturday’s cleaning effort.

The owner of a Brittany Spaniel, an English Setter and a mutt, Pierce said the presence of dog poop is one of the biggest complaints the trust receives about trails.

“There’s a dog poop problem,” Pierce said.

On top of addressing that problem, Pierce said Saturday’s event also helps raise awareness for Run Dog Run’s mission to bring more off-leash parks to Bozeman.

“There’s so many dogs in Bozeman,” Pierce said. “(Residents’) dogs are really important to them.”

Run Dog Run has built two single-dog exercise areas and will be creating a third this summer at the Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter.

The group’s goal, Cunningham said, is to build fenced in exercise areas in city parks and subdivisions.

Whitney Bermes can be reached at wbermes@dailychronicle.com or 582-2648.