In Marketplace

"We pick up where your dog left off," says Mike Burns.

In Marketplace

Jack Black and his can of "Va-poo-rize."

Milwaukee's dirtiest jobs: Professional poop scooper

Sure, tax accountants find themselves extraordinarily busy in early spring, but they aren't alone in their work-related mayhem. Professional poop-scooper Mike Burns, owner of Scoops Pest Waste Removal, says spring is his busiest time of year.

"Many people call in spring for a one-time cleaning of their yard after the snow has melted," says Burns, 40.

Armed with only a large lobby pan lined with a plastic bag and a rake, Burns says his business will "pick up where your dog left off." He started his "dirty business" a year ago, after buying the company -- along with 55 customers -- from two women looking to dump the biz. He has since built Scoops to 120 clients and the list is growing.

"There's definitely a need for this type of business. And it pays really good, but doesn't offer the benefits of my full time job," says Burns, who also works full time as a civil engineer.

Burns chose a rather tasteful and straight-forward name for his business -- Scoops -- but other poop scoopers around the country couldn't resist calling themselves punny and ridiculous names like Pile Patrol, Dr. Doo-Litter, Civic Doody, Poop Masters, Scooper Trooper, the Poop Fairy, The Grand Poobah, Doo Dude, Scoopa da Poopa and Yucko's.

The cost of professional poop scooping ranges greatly, depending on the size of the yard, number of dogs and frequency of visits. Burns gives discounts to senior citizens and believes he offers fair prices in general.

Burns says he enjoys the work because it allows him to spend time outside and because the customer appreciation is so genuine. But how does he deal with the unpleasantness of the task?

"For one, I never touch the stuff," he says.

Burns prefers to scoop at least a couple hours after the dog relieves himself because it's stiffer and less smelly. "Sometimes the smell is bad if you clean up a yard right after a dog has done his business, but generally, there is little if any smell," he says.

In the 2003 film "Envy," Jack Black plays a character who invents "Va-poo-rize," a chemical spray that makes doggy fecal matter disappear, but for Burns, the process is less magical. After removing the waste, Burns puts the poop in the back end of his pick-up -- not inside the cab of the vehicle -- and drives it to a landfill.

"Changing dirty baby diapers is much worse than this," says Burns.

Scoops Pet Waste Removal Web site is scoopsremovals.com.

Talkbacks

OMCreader | May 22, 2006 at 12:07 p.m. (report)

Amanda said: We used Scoops for our dog Artie and the service is great and surprisingly cheap! I can't imagine a reason why not!!

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OMCreader | May 22, 2006 at 8:50 a.m. (report)

Oh really? said: Great article! What an amazing service! That is definitely the worst part of being a dog owner...well worth the $$.

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OMCreader | May 19, 2006 at 12:02 p.m. (report)

Funki said: That dog has a turtle head poking out! I know scat removal must be big business but jeez! I wonder how many of his clients are actually defecating on their own lawns and calling this guy up for the perverse thrill of watching him handle their scat. Or maybe he has a scat identification booklet. Is it just to hard to get a degree in waste management or proctology? Grandma used to always say, "Smell that, that's the smell of money" when driving thru the countryside and smelling manure. I never knew what she meant until now.

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OMCreader | May 12, 2006 at 4:39 p.m. (report)

Mina said: Do we really have to look at a picture of a dog taking a sh*t? Gross!

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OMCreader | May 10, 2006 at 2:07 p.m. (report)

Patty said: Mike is a fabulous guy who offers a great service to his customers!

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