You need a sense of humor in Rob Pierce’s line of work.
Otherwise, deep doo-doo. He co-owns Poop 911, a business that removes pet waste from our yards, common areas, anywhere dogs leave droppings and the owners pay to have it removed.
He and wife Stephanie own the North Port franchise covering Lee, Charlotte and Sarasota counties. Customers pay around $15 a week to have Poop 911 clean up after their dog. Fees vary based on the number of dogs. Other services are available.
But even the Pierce kids get ribbed at school, their father depositing them in a wrapped Poop 911 Dodge. Its logo shows a dog on the can reading a newspaper.
“I grew up farming,” Pierce, in a rich Kentucky patois, said of the well-meaning jokes. “And we all work for a paycheck.”
Crazy as it seems, pet waste disposal is big business. The pet industry, in fact, is $72 billion, bigger than the gross domestic product of many smaller countries.
Rob is a former car salesman and Stephanie a copy editor and writer. The couple had searched for a business opportunity, “an inspiration for independence,” Rob said, quickly finding the Texas-based Poop 911 concept. The company after 15 years is in 30 states.
They started in April, Stephanie handling the books, Rob armed with a device like an ice-scraper on a stick that he uses to flick dog doo into a yellow scooper.
Rob Pierce on a customer run programs a GPS and hits the gas. He’ll wear a black shirt with the Poop 911 logo, khakis, boots and a flophat — more like a safari guide.
Which he is, sort of. He arrives, grabs his gear and lets himself into a backyard. There are piles of dog doo in a fenced run. He flicks the stuff into his scooper lined in plastic, finishes and deposits the bag in the customer’s trash container.
“He’ll even deodorize our yard,” said Justin Mays, a North Port customer with two beagles. “It’s super. We literally use it every day.”
The job is not all roses, of course. Pierce said dog waste has the potential to carry disease and insects are an issue. The dogs themselves can be a problem, too. And there’s stepping in the stuff if he’s not careful.
Still, where we see dog poop, Pierce sees gold. He also sees what the service does for seniors and the disabled unable to care for a cherished pet.
“You hate to see people have to give up their dogs,” he said.