In 2000, Mary Ellen Levy’s children promised if they got a second dog that they would take care of and clean up after it. Unfortunately, her children didn’t hold up their end of the bargain so she decided to use their allowance in exchange for picking up after the dogs by herself. That was the “eureka moment” when she realized there’s a business to be had in pet-waste removal, and soon after, When Doody Calls was started.
An NJBIA member since 2007, the Middletown-based company was the first of its kind in the area and has grown to five vehicles serving Monmouth, Middlesex and Ocean counties, plus a recent expansion into Staten Island, New York (under the business name of The Doody Retrieve). The business model is simple: They clean up and dispose of the waste that pets leave behind, be it for residential or commercial customers. They will do weekly or biweekly cleanings or even one-time cleanings for one or multiple dogs.
While the subject matter of this line of business often produces a chuckle, the service they perform does help alleviate a number of health and safety problems. Their commercial customers include homeowner associations and apartments. Cleaning playgrounds, pool and recreational areas – really anywhere where kids and dogs interact – is particularly important for human health reasons. Without going into detail, dog waste can contain bacteria, viruses and parasites, and runoff from waste can wash into and contaminate water supplies. Believe it or not, this issue is one that most park and recreation departments across the country have to not just contend with, but pay close attention to.
When it comes to public areas, it’s startling to learn that an estimated 40 percent of Americans don’t pick up after their dog, according to USA Today. Why? Maybe they don’t want to “mess with the mess” so to speak? Maybe they have a bad back? Maybe they didn’t bring a disposable bag with them? Couple such reasons with the fact that there are approximately 83 million pet dogs in the United States, and it’s easy to see that there truly is a need and a large marketplace for companies like When Doody Calls.
Further testament to the professionalism of this burgeoning industry was the founding of the Association of Professional Animal Waste Specialists (ASPAWS), which Mary Ellen started with a number of her industry colleagues in 2002. ASPAWS not only educates the public about this profession and the many health risks associated with animal waste, but also sets standards for members to follow in the care and treatment of animals.
When Doody Calls is just one of 20,000 companies that comprise NJBIA’s membership, which is very diverse with representation from an amazingly large and wide spectrum of fields, industries and professions. Look for more unique stories about NJBIA members in future issues of “Beyond 10 West Lafayette,” NJBIA’s membership blog.