Disposable-bag program could use some help

The Morro Bay National Estuary Program reports four out of 10 U.S. households have dogs.

Most owners conscientiously pick up after their pet, but 38 percent do not. The most common reasons for not doing so are a belief the waste will disappear naturally, a city maintenance person is paid to do it, or it’s inconvenient. But consider the health issue: The average-size dog dropping produces 3 billion fecal coliform bacteria, while 95 percent of the waste found in urban storm drains comes from animals. If 71 million dogs produce 29,000 tons of waste a day, then to protect our human families, it is smarter to clean up after our dog family members.

Inconvenience is not the issue in Estero Bay communities. Volunteers continue to build up the number of bag boxes installed at high-traffic locations. Uniquely designed pickup bags are readily available.

Cayucos has 29 such stations; 38 are in Los Osos and Morro Bay.

Louise Gorfain and Donna Dawson are two such volunteers in Cayucos. Dawson is a bag program veteran since it was adopted as a project by the Cayucos Lioness Club in 1999.

“Members realized dogs were important in our community, but so is a healthy environment,” Dawson said. “We started with three boxes at the Cayucos pier and beach. County maintenance workers noticed it made a big difference and encouraged more boxes. It became a community effort.”

Gorfain currently leads the program. “So many kind Cayucos citizens volunteer, but as the program grows, we need more funding support and volunteers to stock the bags,” she said. “Besides the Lioness Club, the bag program has been supported by the Cayucos Chamber of Commerce, Sanitary Department and cemetery. Recently we got a big boost from a Cayucos business, Real Estate broker Dale Kaiser.

“The box we maintain at the ‘dog beach’ on Highway 1 between Morro Bay and Cayucos needed more and more bags. Visitors and people from all over the Estero Bay use it. When it was vandalized, I just about gave up maintaining it there. I wrote a Tribune Letter to the Editor, and Dale called and agreed to fund the program annually. The site uses 600 bags a week and more during the summertime. We are very grateful for his support and hope others will follow his lead.”

Diane Moore is the coordinator for the Morro Bay disposable bag program, which uses 225,000 bags a year at 3 cents a bag. Donations, sponsors and volunteers are always needed. She can be reached at 772-3834 and donations can be made at www.mbnep.org. Contributions for Cayucos bags can be sent to Louise Gorfain at P.O. Box 153, Cayucos, CA 93430.