Canine cleanup becoming problem in downtown district

Maricela Rodriguez/Valley Morning Star

HARLINGEN — When they’ve got to go, a dog will find a way.

Members of the Downtown Improvement District Board discussed the unsavory problem of pet owners letting their dogs defecate in the city’s flower beds, and now the board intends to do something about it.

The discussion arose at a Tuesday meeting via Zoom when the board approved its usual outlay of $4,000 for downtown beautification for the new fiscal year.

“Do we have any way to keep dogs from the flower beds?” asked board member Charlie Perez. “Every day I see dogs in those flower beds.”

“There were some signs in Lozano Plaza, but we might need to start looking into doing some pet type of baggies, grab-a-bag or something, throughout downtown, because we are starting to see a lot of pets come to our downtown,” responded Alexis Alaniz, downtown director.

“What about the little bags, the places around that have little bags if they don’t bring their own?” said board member Stephanie Sokolosky. “Are we talking about that?”

“We should be,” answered board chair Lars Keim.

“That would take some capital outlay,” Alaniz said. “I wonder if we want to approve more money because this is going to be extra expenses and I think it’s important. … Do we want to increase that so there will be enough in the budget for the dogs to be taken care of?”

“Has Juan (Juan Garcia, downtown maintenance coordinator) said there’s a problem with dog … in the beds?” asked board member Bill DeBrooke.

“Oh, yeah. Plenty,” Alaniz answered. “Even Lozano Plaza in the plant beds, and they’re destroying our plants with them walking on them, too.”

The board approved the usual $4,000 beautification outlay and agreed that more money may be needed to address the canine problem downtown. Board members vowed to put it on the agenda at a future meeting after Alaniz determines the potential cost of a dog cleanup program.