By Scott Hammers

The Bulletin

Locals willing to get their hands dirtier than usual descended on Bend’s off-leash dog parks Saturday, picking up, well, dog poop. Pound after pound after pound of dog poop, along with any other garbage found lying around the Bend Park & Recreation District’s seven off-leash areas.

Saturday’s event was the second year in a row the park district has organized a volunteer cleanup for each of its dog parks. At Pine Nursery Park, the district’s newest and largest off-leash area, a couple dozen volunteers spent the morning picking through the sagebrush and rock, looking for what under different circumstances would be an unpleasant discovery.

Kim Johnson, volunteer coordinator for the park district, said that in addition to routine maintenance and cleanup by district staff, each of the district’s dog parks has been “adopted” by a family, group or company that helps keep things tidy. Still, the waste inevitably piles up.

“In a perfect world, everyone would clean up after themselves, but that’s not reality — they don’t,” she said.

Saturday’s cleanup was co-hosted by the park district and DogPac, a Bend group that advocates for expanded off-leash access to parks, trails and public lands in Central Oregon.

DogPac board member Jan Gifford said the group takes a firm stance on responsible dog ownership, including picking up anything one’s dog might leave behind. Saturday’s cleanup was in that spirit, she said, though being a conscientious dog owner is a full-time, year-round job.

“If you go to a dog park and don’t come back with a bag of poop, you’ve missed an opportunity,” she said.

Julie Cannon of Bend, helping with the cleanup effort alongside her daughter, said Bend’s dog parks don’t always get the appreciation they deserve.

“I don’t know if people actually realize how great this is, when you live in the city to have a place for your dog to go play,” she said.

Volunteer and Bend resident Chris Voeller said he regularly brings his dog, Kona, to Pine Nursery. The park stays relatively clean most of the time, he said, with many visitors making a point of packing out a few more dog piles than their own dog has deposited.

Mike Vigue and Wanda Hennesay of Bend said they wanted to help clean up a place they frequent with their dogs.

Vigue said he found a way to stay motivated through the otherwise grim and somewhat gross task.

“Imagine if this were all gold,” he said.

Hennesay laughed.

“There’d be a lot more people out here!” she said.

— Reporter: 541-383-0387,