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A woman with a red bag and a small dog.
Barbara Radner, who uses a WoofPack poo bag manufactured in northwest suburban Carpentersville, poses with her dog Myble in her New Eastside neighborhood. An inner pocket of the bag is lined with an antimicrobial compartment to store used bags until they can be thrown away.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

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Poop fairies won’t help, but this bag might

Not China, but Carpentersville manufactures a bag to stylishly secure your dog’s waste.

Myble is a rescue and a sweetie, according to her owner, Barbara Radner. But like all dogs, the Chihuahua mix has her needs. When nature calls, the retired DePaul administrator escorts Myble from their home on the 33rd floor of a lakefront condo and down to the street to do her business.

Heading out, Radner snags a WoofPack Dog Walking Accessory Bag. I learned of the product’s existence after my July 15 column about the non-reality of poop monitoring drones. Cook County is not searching for pet waste from the sky, but an Ohio company is selling a tote bag to put it in.

“I just got tired of stuffing things into my pockets,” said Lisa Bast, who started her company, Waggin’ Trails, in 2017. “At times I was walking and didn’t have enough bags. Carrying bagged waste, cellphone, keys, treats. I wanted something all-in-one.”

The bag is sold online and at dog shows.

A red bag.
The WoofPack Dog Walking Accessory Bag costs $29.97 and comes in a variety of styles, including one that says “DOG MOM.” There is no “DOG DAD” version, as 80% of the customers are women.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

“When I saw it, I said, ‘Huh, that would solve several problems,’” said Radner, 76. “I’m going to get it.”

I’ve been walking a dog for 11 years, and the plastic sheath from newspapers makes a perfect collection bag (try that, Apple News) which, knotted, I hold in one hand and do not think about until reaching the nearest trash receptacle.

Why buy a $30 purse to put poo bags into?

“It’s just designed perfectly,” Radner said. “There’s a little pocket for my cellphone and other stuff. A well-protected pocket for the poo bag, so your phone doesn’t smell like poop.”

Bast had help perfecting the bag from the company manufacturing them.

“It is very, very, very expensive to manufacture in the United States,” she said. “But I wanted it made here. I had it manufactured in Amish country, but the quality wasn’t there.”

She located a Chicago area company to make the bags, a three-person operation in Carpentersville, 1st Class Sewing and Design, that makes insulated pizza boxes, owned by a couple, Juan and Bris Juarez.

“They do work from home,” said 1st Class sales manager Priscilla Canales. “They have all the machines, sewing machines, embroidery machines.”

Family members help out when orders surge. They’ve been trying to streamline the bag-making process.

“It is a bag that takes a little longer than we would like — an hour and a half, two hours,” Canales said. “The main challenge is the small details.”

Eighty percent of WoofPack customers are women, which makes sense, since women are more diligent about cleaning up after their dogs, a practice people in general are woefully bad at. At least a third of dog owners don’t bother, though dog waste is bad for the environment and leaving it uncollected is against the law in Cook County.

Specifically, Section 10-8 (r): “No person shall fail to remove feces deposited by the person’s cat or dog, except service animals, upon the public ways or within the public places of the County or upon the premises of any person other than the owner without that person’s consent.” (After reading this, consider curling up with Cook County animal ordinances, which both ban greased pig contests and provide a legal framework for becoming a Feral Cat Colony Caretaker, a subject you bet we will explore further.) The fine for failure is $500.

Maybe Northbrook is a particularly considerate place, maybe I’m oblivious, but I rarely notice owners fail to pick up after their dogs.

“I see it all the time,” said Bast, who has a Golden Doodle, Micah, and lives near Canton, Ohio. “I see dumps, I’m telling you, two feet away from the trash bin that has a station over it with trash bags. People will let their dogs dump in front of the trash can. It drives me crazy.”

How could anyone big-hearted enough to love a dog turn around and fail at such a basic responsibility?

“Could be laziness,” she said. “A lot of pet owners don’t realize how toxic it is. They need a lot of education. Some parks I’ve spoken with out West, in Wyoming, New Mexico, have poop fairies — people dressed as poop fairies on the trails, gently reminding people. It’s really worked.”

My God, she’s right. I watched videos from Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Castle Rock, Colorado, using a poop fairy to drive the message home: Pick up after your dog. What you then do with it, well, that’s up to you.

An overweight man dressed as a poop fairy.
The town of Castle Rock, Colorado, is one of several communities out West to use a poop fairy character to encourage residents to clean up after their dogs.
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