How does a pooper scooper service work?

Basic pooper scooper companies come to your home once or on a weekly or monthly basis to clean up after your pet. Dog cleanups are the most common and involve employees of the company coming into your backyard, safely cleaning all of your dog's waste and then removing it from your property. Many northern pooper scoopers offer a post-winter package which tackles the (inevitably) large amount of frozen waste under piles of melting snow.

Cat cleanups are also an option — in this case, the company will need access to your home so they can scoop out the litter box and take away the waste. Proper disposal of this waste is essential; according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), pet refuse that washes into storm water runoff can pollute lakes, streams and local sewer systems, posing a serious health risk to humans.

Expect to pay a higher rate the more often you have the company come to clean up your pet's waste, and make sure you read the pooper scooper's terms of service carefully. Most won't fight with gates that don't open properly, may not pick up waste that ends up in flower beds or under trees, and typically prefer to operate when your pet isn't in the yard. Long story short: If the company can't easily access your yard or home to do the work, you may end up with a bill but no service.

Pooper scoopers may offer packages or discounts if you schedule recurring service. (Photo courtesy of Doug Barnhart/Doody Calls)

What do pooper scoopers do?

Like many other niche pet markets, pooper scoopers are starting to offer specialty services. For example, some sell items like biodegradable kitty litter, which helps limit the impact of dumping standard clumping litters into landfills.

Other companies are reaching further into the lucrative dog market by offering products like artificial grass — which requires virtually no maintenance and won't stain — or raw food to change your pet's diet.

No matter the type of services offered, or their cost, it's important to evaluate pooper scoopers based on their performance and punctuality. Most operate on a schedule: You'll be told what day and approximately what time they'll be coming by to clean your yard. While extreme weather or other unforeseen events may push back or change your service time, your scooper should always call and let you know about any issues. If missed appointments and a lack of communication are common, you may want to consider a new provider.

How do I find the right pooper scooper?

Before hiring any company to remove your pet waste, start by making a phone call or visiting its website. With the pet industry booming, startup scooper companies are appearing across the country but not all have the same standards of practice.

There is virtually no legislation covering the services offered by pooper scoopers, which means that aside from a basic city business license, they require no other specialized certificates or training. While the standard service offered isn't complex, it does involve the removal and transport of hazardous waste, and as such must be handled with at least some diligence.

Pooper scooper services let you cross one unpleasant task off your list, but not all pooper pickups are passable - take care to evaluate each one on its own merits.

Pooper scoopers typically charge about $10 to $15 for a weekly visit for pet parents with one dog. (Photo courtesy of Neil Stewart/Pet Waste)

How much do pooper scoopers charge?

Any prospective company you call or email should be able to provide you with a rough estimate of cost for your yard — often this will be based on both the size of your dog(s) and the square footage of your lawn space.

Most scooper companies have standard packages; they often include a caveat which allows them to increase the price if they arrive at your home and find something unexpected.

VIDEO: Pooper Scoopers

Beware of any company that cannot easily articulate its services or can't answer questions about scheduling or canceled appointments.

Just like any other service-oriented business, pooper scoopers should be focused on delivering a high-quality experience while minimizing pet owner stress.

Pooper scoopers typically charge per number of visits and per dog.

Expect to pay about $10 to $15 for one weekly visit with one dog. For more than one dog, add about $2 to $3 per dog per week.

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