‘It was pretty disgusting’: Spring revealing smelly situation in school yard left behind by pet owners

Spring is revealing a smelly situation at a Winnipeg school that has left parents disgusted – they believe irresponsible pet owners could be to blame.

When students at École Varennes came inside from recess earlier this week, staff noticed something unusual.

“We started noticing a fairly strong odour in the school,” Amy Warriner, school principal, told CTV News. “As we investigated, we found that there were some smelly snow suits and snow pants from the kids playing outside.”

Warriner said the school believes the smell is the result of some local pet owners walking their dogs through the schoolyard in the evenings, and leaving behind some unwelcome surprises courtesy of their canines.

The waste has been spread over several areas of the school’s field where the kids play, leaving students with outdoor clothing that ‘smells strongly.’

“The reaction is somewhat frustrating, of course, because our kids are negatively impacted by what’s been happening in the evening,” Warriner said.

The school sent an email to parents, warning them of the ‘pungent odour of organic waste’ permeating their children’s snowsuits.

Suzanne Chartrand, whose son is a student at the school, said she was disappointed when she got the notice Wednesday evening.

“I thought it was pretty disgusting,” she told CTV News. “I just think it’s disappointing that there are so many irresponsible dog owners out there who don’t pick up their dog’s mess.”

She said the school has asked parents to wash their children’s winter clothing, though Chartrand said so far her son has not been impacted by the smell.

In the interim, the school said it has blocked off areas of the playground affected and has asked students not to play on the field until the ‘issue has passed.’

Chartrand said she is thankful for the quick reaction from the school to take precautions and protect the students.

“I’m glad they addressed it with everyone before we made a stink about it.”

She said her message to pet owners is simple: “Pick up your dog mess. I mean, it’s not that hard,” she said. “It’s not a dog park. You know, I know lots of people like to walk their dogs through school yards and stuff like that, but you got to be responsible and pick up after them.”

Warriner said the school is now in the process of ordering new signage indicating no dogs are allowed in the playground area.

“Overall my observation as a citizen of Winnipeg has been that most people do clean up after their dogs. And so these are unfortunate situations that occur,” she said. “(We’re) asking everybody to be thoughtful and mindful about where they walk their dog and the implications for other people.” 

According to the city, pet owners can face a $200 fine for failing to pick up after their dog, or for letting their dog on school grounds, playgrounds or sports fields where signs prohibit them.

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