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#1 Old 07-17-2004, 12:18 AM
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This seems to be a burgeoning business lately.... (This came through email, so I don't have an internet link)

It's a Ruff Job: Pooper Scooper Business Not a Waste

By J.M. Barol

Source: Scripps Howard News Service

Ken Simmons remembers fondly his first day as a professional pooper scooper.

As he scoured his first backyard, hunting for dog droppings, three police cars pulled up.

"The neighbors had called the cops," said Simmons, owner of Grandpa's Pet Butler. "They must have thought I'm either an idiot or a courteous robber."

More than a year later, Simmons is not just recognized in the neighborhoods he visits _ he's revered.

"He's a godsend," said Paulina Manis, owner of four dogs, which makes for an abundance of little brown nuggets in her yard. "I don't know how I ever managed without him."

Not a bad reputation to have, considering Simmons spends an average of 12 hours a day, six days a week crouched down in back-breaking postures in search of that dreadful substance everyone else tries to avoid.

Dog waste removal is a growing business in the United States and understandably so. With more than a third of the country's households filled with dogs, and as multitasking as people are these days, pooper scoopers are

becoming as popular as house cleaners and baby sitters.

"As long as there's dogs, I'll be in business," Simmons said.

Simmons' one-man enterprise _ which he said consists of about 100 homes _ is one of two poop scooping companies in Albuquerque with a city business license; Poop Busters is his competition.

Even with just the one competitor, Simmons is hesitant at first to talk about the secret to his success _ his clientele has grown so much, he no longer advertises _ but later reveals the trick is offering more than just waste cleanup.

"If you're going to charge the same as your competition, you have to do something different," he said.

That means pulling and killing weeds, sweeping driveways and sidewalks, disinfecting dog runs, trimming trees, picking up trash and cleaning outside furniture, among other odd jobs.

After spending most of his career in unsatisfying corporate management positions, he heard a woman on a Denver radio station two years ago talking about her poop scooping company. Less than a year later, Simmons was in business, making about $500 a month. In 11 months he was more than half the way to reaching his financial goal.

"Anytime you can pay your bills and put a few pennies aside, things are good," he said. "I get to be outside, I get to be around animals, and I have good customers. There's more to life than money."

For Simmons _ a sun-weathered man who appears to be in his 50s but said he's "so old my birth certificate is written on a stone tablet" _ life now is about a 5-gallon bucket, an endless supply of garbage bags and rubber gloves, and 300 or so dogs _ most of whom he calls his friends.

Most of his clients are female _ either busy single moms or irritated wives tired of nagging their husbands to pick up the poop.

Four-dog owner Manis, whose chemotherapy for bone cancer leaves her weak and nauseous, said she looks forward to seeing Simmons at her home once a week.

"Sometimes I'll look out the window, and I'll see him talking to the dogs and

petting them," she said. "It's so much more than just picking up waste.

"And it's so inexpensive."

Simmons' prices vary according to the number of dogs, the size of the yard, how far he has to drive and the frequency of visits, but on average a weekly rate is $7-$10; every two weeks costs $9-$12; and monthly visits are $18-$40.

Most days Simmons spends much of his time in his pickup truck driving from one job to another. Now that he has a strong clientele, Simmons is working on making his route more efficient.

It's Simmons' love for the dogs that makes the long days worthwhile. For each new customer he gets, Simmons makes a donation to rescue groups in Albuquerque.

It's easy to see the adoration Simmons has for the dogs. After he has finished cleaning up, he takes a few minutes to play. On this day, he finds a soggy rubber ball for a yellow labrador named Buddy to chase after. As he watches the yellow bundle of fur and dust and awkward frenzy skid across the clean concrete slab, Simmons lets out a husky chuckle.

After a couple of minutes, he tucks the ball in the corner, reaches for Buddy's bowling-ball head and whispers in his ear.

"Time to go, Buddy. There's other puppies to see."

Copyright 2004 Scripps Howard News Service

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#2 Old 07-17-2004, 08:21 AM
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kpickell, I keep reading about the same type of business starting up around here. It's a brilliant idea
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