When Cosmo Dog Park first opened two years ago in Gilbert, town officials quickly realized they needed more Mutt Mitts to handle its canine guests' smelly byproduct. So the town increased the number of Mutt Mitt waste disposal stations, which provide glovelike plastic bags for dog owners to use to pick up their dogs' waste.
"One of the complaints we heard was that people wanted one in the parking lot because a lot of times the dogs wouldn't even make it down to the park," town spokesman Greg Svelund said. "They would get out of the car and get so excited, they would just go right there."
Complaints dropped off drastically after that.
But now the complaints are piling up again, and town officials say they're launching a campaign to encourage people to pick up their dog's droppings.
"Today was my first visit and I was appalled!" wrote Gilbert resident Alicia Golden in an e-mail to the town. "I couldn't believe how much dog waste is left on the ground both at the beach and in the active dog yard."
Signs posted at the Mutt Mitt stations throughout the park remind pet owners that picking up their dogs' waste is the law and not doing so is punishable with fines up to $200.
But no one has ever received a citation at the park, even though a walk around the park shows plenty of people ignore the law.
Gilbert's park rangers have no authority to write citations and police rarely patrol the park unless called there, Svelund said.
Town staffers will begin handing out fliers and Mutt Mitts to dog owners at the park in the next couple of weeks. The move is aimed at encouraging pet owners to pick up after their dogs, Svelund said.
Chandler resident Rustin Guarnere has visited the park twice with his rat terrier and worries about the health risks to both people and dogs that come into contact with feces left all over the park.
"We noticed it the first time we went in the gate," he said. "If you can't pick up after your dog, you shouldn't have an animal."
The waste not picked up by pet owners is supposed to be cleaned up by a private contractor hired to perform overall maintenance at the park.
Gilbert pays the contractor $46,248 each year to keep up both Discovery Park and Cosmo Dog Park.
That figure includes mowing and trimming, in addition to waste cleanup.
"We'll go back when we see a difference," Guarnere said.