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Gone to the dogs: Partners remove waste from the yards of more than 80 pet owners throughout metro Atlanta
BYLINE: Tinah Saunders, Staff
PUBLICATION: The Atlanta Journal and Constitution
SECTION: CityLife Atlanta (Extra)
“It’s a dirty job but somebody has to do it.” Cara Brown has heard the joke so many times now that she just smiles politely and keeps right on scooping.
“Yes, it is dirty work, but most people just don’t want to do it themselves,” said the co-owner of Dirty Work, a dog waste removal service.
Using $2,000 in personal savings, Brown and partner Erin Erman opened the Buckhead-based company in July 1998 and now service yards in 15 counties throughout metro Atlanta.
Former computer network administrators, the two grew tired of being officebound and began looking around for a business that would combine their love of animals and the outdoors. While scooping doggie doo wouldn’t be everyone’s choice, the partners have turned it into a successful enterprise.
Brown and Erman have more than 80 regular customers on their client list, which includes residential as well as such commercial clients as apartment and townhouse complexes. The service costs $12 for one visit a week to a home with one to two dogs.
One of their customers is Morningside resident Tom Cook and his wife, who have two dogs, a fenced back yard and little time.
“When we do get some time off, we like to get out and play with the dogs, but we don’t want to have to scoop every time we do,” Cook said. “And besides, I’ve seen them out playing with the dogs when they visit. That’s cute.”
Brown usually visits a home once or twice a week. Using plastic-bag-covered scoopers and wearing high-topped boots and chemical-resistant gloves, she cleans the yard, then double-bags the residue, sprays it, her gloves and boots with a disinfectant that kills the parvo virus and drops it into a covered container in the back of her van. At the end of the day, she deposits the waste into a small Dumpster-type container that a contractor picks up weekly for disposal.
“Spraying with the disinfectant is necessary so we don’t take disease from one yard to another,” Brown explained. Scooping also reduces the chance of polluting ground water.
“If you don’t remove the waste, when it rains, it runs off into streams and sewers,” she said.
Dirty Work also offers additional services, such as pick-up and delivery of pet food. The delivery service is free to Dirty Work clients, but they will do the same for anyone for a $4.95 fee. The pet food, any brand for any pet, is extra.
Brown and Erman market the business with a Web site at www.dirtywork.net, direct mailings and by word of mouth from satisfied customers who get a week’s free service for each referral. They also offer two week’s of free scooping to anyone who adopts a dog from The Humane Society or a local animal shelter.
“We believe so much in adoptions that we like to promote them,” Brown said. “It’s just a gift that we give back.”
ILLUSTRATIONS/PHOTOS: Something in a name: Cara Brown’s business name says it all as she works at a job in Midtown.
NICK ARROYO / Staff
Mixing work and play: Co-owner Cara Brown takes time from scoop work to toss a ball for Maddie at a home in Midtown. Her customers are scattered across 15 counties of metro Atlanta