St. Louis Magazine
The International Pooper Scooper Week With Yucko's
March 29, 2013 10:07 AM By Byron Kerman In stlmag.com
April Fool's Day is coming up, but International Pooper
Scooper Week, scheduled for April 1 to 7, is no joke. I
mean, it might be to some, but we've chosen to take the
concept seriously (more or less) and learn about the whys
and wherefores of collecting road apples from Debbie Levy,
co-owner of Yucko's. Yucko's has been
scooping up after hounds for 23 years now. Fair warning:
Read this one after you've eaten, not before.
What is International Pooper Scooper Week?
It was created by aPaws, the Association of Professional
Animal Waste Specialists. Yucko's is one of the founding
organizations of that group. It raises awareness of what we
do and how important it is.
How many pet-waste-removal companies are in aPaws?
There are close to 100 companies from all over the country,
including pet-sitting and dog-walking companies, too.
That's a lot.
Well, it's just one of those
things people don't like to talk about. But when people find
out there's a company like ours, they're laughing, and if we
can make them laugh, humor is good for people. But honestly,
we handle the one aspect of dog ownership that people really
don't care for. Some people will change a dirty diaper but
they just won't pick up dog poop. And then there are the
older and handicapped people who can't bend over, and we are
delighted to be able to help them own dogs.
What does aPaws do for the industry?
brings awareness and credibility to the industry. Everybody
thought we were a joke. We have a "Turd Herding Contest" at
our annual convention. This year it's in Chicago. It's to
see how much a waste professional can pick up in a timed
Do you use real or facsimile poop for the contest?
Right now we're using facsimile poop. In the past we've used
cut-up potatoes. We're considering adding prunes. Check out
the web page for it—the rules are hysterical. We also have
"Name That Turd," where we have actual piles of poop in
jars, and you have to name what breed of dog it is and if it
ate dry or wet food.
Which of the various pooper scoopers do you use?
know there are a few different designs. That's a
scooping trade secret. Ya gotta hire us. Hopefully you'll
never know because you won't see us. That's the beauty of
the business—we come to you, get the job done, leave, and
you might never see us. Out of sight, out of mind. We do
leave a "PU Card" behind.
A PU Card?
That stands for "Pick Up," to
let you know we've been there and picked up the poop. If we
see something odd in the waste or find something noteworthy
in the yard, we put that in the note, too. The other day we
found a client's keys in her front door.
What other unusual items have you found in people's
We had diamond earrings once, but the
client had told us we might find them because she'd lost
them. We've found money, nylons, condoms, right there in the
back yard. Dogs like to eat all kinds of things.
Do your employees bring rubber gloves and/or an
extra pair of shoes with them?
Each has his own
technique. They're professional turd herders. They're pretty
good about where they step.
When your employees go to pick up after the dogs, do
the dogs themselves sometimes come outside, possibly through
doggie doors, and say hello to them?
The dogs get
to know their turd herders and go outside all the time and
say hello to them. They can't wait to see them—they're like
What do you do with the poop once you've picked it
We double-bag it and put it in the clients'
Do you do litter boxes, too?
We don't offer
that, because we don't go inside people's homes when they're
Do you do horses?
No, we don't do horses.
We used to do pot-bellied pigs. I enjoyed cleaning up after
How often do you recommend a visit
professional turd herder?
It depends on the size of
the yard and how many dogs there are.
Yucko's is famous around these parts for your
company slogans. Remind us of some.
"What goes in must come out." And then there's the one they
wouldn't let us do outdoors: "Your dog's dreck is how we
make our gelt."
That is so bizarre that they wouldn't let you use
the word dreck, Yiddish for poop.
They also banned
our cartoon pile of poop on some of our ads from some
outdoor advertising. You can't fight city hall.
I guess you get free advertising when people see
Yucko's vehicles with your logo on the side, though?
Our vehicles are not labeled. A lot of people don't
want their neighbors to know their business. The best
advertising is word of mouth, anyway.
How has technology changed the pooper-scooper
industry since you started Yucko's in 1990?
Antibacterial hand cream got big. Oh, and there's now a
motorized vacuum that sucks up the poop instead of a
scooper. One guy came out with a scooper with a light on it.
There's always something new.
In addition to scooping, Yucko's also sells funerary
urns for pets, replica fire hydrants, oxygen
masks for pets,
dogs to chase
The oxygen mask is wonderful. I talked to a lady in Jamaica
the other day with a mini horse that's pregnant. Because the
horse has breathing problems, she ordered a mask, just to be
on the safe side when the horse goes into labor. I also sold
one to a lady with a dog with a collapsed trachea. They're
good to have around if you have a fire and the pets are
affected by smoke inhalation. People love the replica fire
hydrants, too. Dogs love to pee on them
You've been doing this locally for 23 years now,
Yes. I wonder how many tons of poop we've
picked up in all that time? In two years we have a big
anniversary. One of the things I'm doing now is looking for
the first scooping company. I've been researching that, and
there's not a lot of good data on it. I've been calling and
June 22, 2009 12:00 AM By Alfred Gingold In The
It's hard to find encouraging business news these days,
so it was with some enthusiasm that the New York Times
reported recently on a little-known segment of our brave
new economy that is going strong: poop scoopers or, as
they prefer to be called, animal waste specialists. For
many, poop removal service has joined indoor plumbing
and cable on the list of former luxuries that can no
longer be done without.
Naturally, the scoopers have their own professional
organization. The Association of Animal Waste
Specialists (aPaws), the driving force behind
International Pooper Scooper Week, devoted to "educating
pet owners on the importance of cleaning up after their
dogs" (In case you missed it, this year's was April
1-7), numbers about 150 members. On the Association's
website, you can consult a state-by-state directory of
member companies whose names demonstrate beyond any
doubt that animal waste specialists like puns, wordplay
and, in general, the sort of humor that makes this vein
on the left side of my forehead throb visibly. Here is
contact info for Yucko's Pooper Scooper Service (#1 in
St. Louis for Turd-Herding!), Doggie Doo Not, When Doody
Calls, In the Line of Dooty (note spelling variants),
Entre-Manure, Dirty Work, Poop Masters, We Do Doo Doo
The aPaws members closest to my Brooklyn home are in
suburban communities in New Jersey and Long Island. It's
not surprising that scooping services cater largely to a
suburban clientele, slothful dog owners who let their
dogs go in their yards, from whence the good luck is
picked up once or twice a week. What the yard is like in
between visits is something I prefer not to dwell upon,
but the arrangement would certainly put a damper on
one's use and enjoyment of the yard. In a word, ick.
This custom of letting your dog crap on your property
and then leave it there to cure is another excellent
reason, along with the better known anomie and
alienation and crazy teenage drivers, why you will never
catch me living in a suburb.
By contrast, my dog George cohabits with an entire
family of waste removal specialists and we take our work
seriously. I, for one, remember the dark days before the
poop scoop law of 1978 transformed New York from a land
where ripple-soled shoes dare not tread to a wonderland
of (more or less) poo-free streets. The pooper scooper
law is one of the few laws in New York history that
enjoys active support from the citizenry. Call it a
matter of values: In these parts, picking up after your
dog is the inalienable obligation of the owner and that
is why even the most bleeding heart, soft-on-crime New
York liberal is likely to support the death penalty for
poop-leaving scoff-laws, preferably by some slow and
I've had nothing against the removal specialists
themselves. Until now.
Now I know that "The good people of Poop Butler believe
that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior." I know that the
mission of Pet Butler includes the intention to "honor
God in all we doo." ("Doo." Get it?) An outfit call the
Charlotte Poop Van Scoop wants me to know that Jesus
loves me. In a related development, an outfit called
Discount Pet Medicines offers this prayer right below
the copyright information on their Website: "Thank you
Jesus for blessing us with the presence of our pets."
I am not saying that the animal waste removal industry
is an evangelical plot, but I am saying that knowing the
religious convictions of the person you hire to pick up
the dog shit in your yard - or from who you buy your dog
meds - falls squarely into the category of Too Much
Information. I understand that cleanliness may be next
to godliness, but there is a time and place for
everything, and poo retrieval time is not proselytizing
Besides, dog-owning evangelicals have problems beyond
the good luck in their yards. Apparently, pets aren't
allowed in heaven, so come the Rapture, Fido won't be
making the trip. Speaking personally, this would be a
deal breaker - even if I were a believer. But at least
one individual has seen an opportunity in Judgement Day.
For fifty dollars, offers an avowed atheist posting on
Kansas City's Craigslist, your critter will be fed,
sheltered, exercised and generally well cared for from
the moment you disappear into the empyrean until the end
of its natural life.
The person doesn't say anything about picking up poo,
though, and I believe that even in End Times, neatness
counts. Which is why I wash my hands of this matter.
St. Charles Journal
Watch Your Step
By Raymond Castile
In The St. Charles Journal
Who let the dogs out? Who cares.
The real question is, who will clean up after them?
Ann Sammons, that's who.
"I go out and pick up poop," said
Sammons, of Overland. Sammons is one of seven "turd herders"
working for Yucko's pooper-scooper service in Maryland
Heights. With a pink rake and an aluminum dust pan, she
confiscates odorous offenders outside homes and businesses
in St. Charles and St. Louis counties.
Feb. 29, she was trekking the grounds of Springhurst Terrace
in O'Fallon and searching for brown piles hiding in the
grass. Herding turds requires a keen eye to spot the land
mines before stepping on them. Once identified, it is simply
a matter of raking them into the pan like a wild dust bunny.
"When I first heard about this
business, I died laughing," Sammons said. "Then I totally
fell in love with it."
Sammons was going through a divorce
11 years ago when she asked friend Robert Kemmerling for a
job. Kemmerling and partner Debbie Levy founded Yucko's in
1990. They operated it themselves until business grew beyond
what two people could handle.
Levy, of Maryland Heights, said
Sammons could not make ends meet before joining Yucko's.
After a year of turd herding, Sammons could afford to buy a
"I tell her now she owns the house
that crap built," Levy said.
A good sense of humor is essential
in the poop-scooping business, said Levy, whose family owned
"I come from a family of
entrepreneurs, so I became an entre-manure," she said.
When asked how she and Kemmerling
entered the poop-scooping business, Levy said, "We kind of
stepped into it."
Levy said she was cutting the grass
when she realized there was a need for professional
animal-waste elimination, someone people could call to
remove the "unknown land mines in the battlefield."
Kemmerling and she obtained a business loan and started
Levy sums up 18 years of business
with one sentence: "That's a lot of crap."
Levy is president of the National
Association of Professional Animal Waste Specialists. The
organization has declared the first week of April as
national Pooper-Scooper Week to educate pet owners about the
importance of cleaning up after their dogs.
"Your dog views your yard as a
toilet that doesn't get flushed," Levy said. "Dog waste is
not fertilizer. Kids can get sick from it. We don't want it
in our sewers or waterways. It's not eye-appealing and not
nice to your neighbors."
Sammons said she loves dogs. In
fact, she credits canines with helping her heal emotionally
after her divorce.
"It sounds silly, but they did,"
she said. "You go into a person's backyard where the poop
is, and the dogs are there. You open the gate and they jump
on you. You have to pet them. They are ecstatic to see me.
They follow me around. I know all of my dogs' names. They
are like my water-cooler buddies."
The dogs are not the only ones
happy to see Sammons. She also receives warm welcomes from
home and business owners, landscapers, gardeners and other
people on her routes.
"It is a very rewarding job,"
Sammons said. "It makes me feel I am needed."
Booze You Can Lose: A Binger's
Feb 14, 2007 In The Riverfront Times
Combine one can of Pepsi, three ounces Fetzer Vineyards'
Valley Oaks Pinot Grigio, two pieces dog shit courtesy of
Yucko's Poop Scoop'n Service (the official poop-and-scoop
service of Soulard Mardi Gras) and Arctic-brand ice. Blend.
Drink of the Week says: Earthy and gamy with a hint of
wet cardboard in the bouquet, the deep oakiness of a
first-growth Château Lafite as it crosses the palate and a
solid, extended finish of German Shepherd turd.
The Memphis Flyer
Where's The Fire, Rover?
September 10, 2006 - 07:43 PM
By John Branston In The Memphis Flyer
week, police department officials were pretty embarrassed
when they discovered the fire hydrant on the sidewalk
outside their K-9 unit was fake — placed there years ago so
the dogs would have a nice place to pee.
But a nonworking hydrant violated an ordinance requiring
hydrants within certain distances of public buildings, so
now the city is going to pay $20,000 to have a real hydrant
installed. That's a real pisser.
But if you want a hydrant for
your little pupster, a company appropriately named
Yuckos offers faux hydrants for a mere $375. If you splurge
for one and plunk it down in your front yard, just hope the
fire department knows it’s not hooked up if your house
catches on fire.
St. Petersburg Times
Pasco Neighbors Seeing Yellow Over Dogs:
A Conflict About Public Pet Urination Brews In A Hudson Deed
Restricted Community, Which Is Considering Whether The Act
24, 2004 By Bridget Hall Grumet In The St. Petersburg Times
HUDSON - Some
of the neighbors get nervous when DoeD or Ginger stop
trotting and start squatting.
It's not what you think.
Vivian Bogul always picks up after her female dogs, a beagle
mix and a Labrador mix that accompany her on morning walks
through Autumn Oaks, a deed-restricted subdivision off
County Line Road.
It's the urine that's the problem.
"If you don't water it and dilute it, it kills the grass,"
said Ron Ruppe, a retired New York police officer who lives
down the street. "If that happens, you're in violation of
the deed restrictions because your grass is dead."
The problem gets worse when other dogs sniff out the spot
and decide to mark it, too, he said.
That's why some neighbors are questioning whether public pet
urination violates the deed restrictions in Autumn Oaks.
Neighbor Tom Contino cites this passage in the community's
covenants: "No noxious or offensive activity or nuisance
shall be carried (out) on, in or about any lot, unit or
The homeowners association's attorney is reviewing the
matter, and the board of directors could decide at its June
2 meeting whether that passage applies to Mrs. Bogul's dogs.
She finds the idea ridiculous.
"If they wanted this to be a pet-free community, they should
have put that in the deed restrictions, and I wouldn't have
bought here," said Mrs. Bogul, who happens to sit on the
board of directors. She also owns a water and air
purification business with her husband, Jim Bogul.
Mrs. Bogul has looked up maps, ordinances and covenants and
insists she's doing nothing wrong. She only allows her dogs
on the grassy right-of-way between the road and the sidewalk
- land that is publicly owned, although the homeowners must
maintain it under the deed restriction.
Neither she nor her husband has seen signs of any damage to
"Their complaint is a complaint about something that isn't
happening," Mr. Bogul said.
But the dispute has created quite a stink.
Mrs. Bogul accuses some neighbors of turning their
sprinklers on her (they say they're just washing away the
dog urine). Ruppe and Contino accuse Mrs. Bogul of
encouraging her dogs to relieve themselves near their yards
(she says the dogs simply go where they want).
When a dog squats or the sprinklers go on, neighbors start
snapping pictures of each other. And Contino admits "giving
(the Boguls) the bird" with both hands when a camera was
turned on him.
"This never should have gone anywhere," Ruppe said. "This is
Ever since Fido took his first squat, the question has
lingered: What do you do about the doo?
Centuries ago it was used as manure or burned with other
garbage. During the Industrial Revolution, scavengers
scooped it up and sold it to tanners, who used it in leather
As more people and their pets moved to the cities in the
20th century, communities began requiring people to "curb" -
or clean up - after their dogs. That messy task inspired
Japanese inventor Takeki Narita to create the first pooper
scooper - a long stick attached to a box with a hinged lid -
which received a patent in 1969.
The courts waded into the dog doo debate in 1971, when the
Essex County Court upheld a Nutley, N.J., curb-your-dog law.
The judge ruled that, "Dog droppings have become a scourge,
a form of environmental pollution, no less dangerous and
degrading than the poisons that we exude and dump into our
air and water." The man who challenged the law had to pay a
$10 fine for his Great Dane's great dump.
If "dangerous" sounds like an overstatement, consider this:
About 600 people were hospitalized or treated for broken
limbs each year after slipping on dog droppings in Paris,
the New York Times reported in 2001. A law requiring people
to curb their pets went into effect the following year,
ending the city's strange practice of sending out workers on
bright green motor scooters to suck up the dog doo with a
Today there are numerous pooper scooper patents and dozens
of "doody duty" services across the country that clean up
after pets for a price. They even have their own trade
organization: the Association of Professional Animal Waste
But while poop has inspired laws, sparked inventions and
spawned an industry, dog urine largely goes unnoticed and
unregulated, aPaws president Debra Levy said.
"It's more of a be-nice-to-your-neighbor kind of thing,"
said Levy, owner of Yucko's scooper service, the self-dubbed
No. 1 "turd-herder" in St. Louis. "You do have the power to
direct your dog to urinate somewhere else. If a dog has to
urinate, I don't have a problem with it - just not on my
In Pasco County, the ordinances are anything but clear on
The county's antilittering law - which bans people from
littering on public roads, rights-of-way, water bodies or
private properties - includes "animal waste" among the
definitions of litter.
A pet owner risks a $155 fine for leaving it behind,
although citations are rare because the pet must be caught
in the act, Assistant County Attorney Kristi Wooden said.
The legal hair-splitting arises over urine. Technically,
it's waste. Practically speaking, however, there's no way to
force people to clean it up, she said.
"It might not be the most polite thing to do, but it's not
something I'm going to be prosecuting until someone tells me
I must," said Wooden, who handles animal control and code
enforcement cases in county court.
Her rule of thumb: "The more solid the waste, the more solid
But deed restrictions are another matter.
Residents agree to stricter, self-imposed rules on the
theory that it keeps the neighborhood nicer. By the same
token, the homeowners association can be a place where
Mrs. Bogul thinks she ruffled feathers earlier this year
when she questioned the way certain members handled deed
restriction issues without consulting the full board.
John Tallarine, president of the board, acknowledged the dog
urine debate includes a "personality conflict." But he said
his only concern is whether the public urinating violates
the deed restrictions.
"Anything else is a civil matter," Tallarine said.
Ruppe and Contino describe themselves as dog lovers and
former dog owners. Contino used to hold birthday parties for
his dog Uno, an Alaskan malamute/golden retriever mix, and
now keeps the urn of Uno's cremains on a table at his home,
surrounded by the dog's squeak toys and pictures.
They're not asking Mrs. Bogul to stop her walks. Just don't
let the dogs relieve themselves along the way, or use a
vacant property where no one will care, they said.
"All you have to do is pull the leash," Ruppe said.
Ray Kleckner, former president of the association, thinks
Mrs. Bogul has the right to let her dogs use the
right-of-way, as long as she picks up after them.
But he added: "I do feel that, to relieve the tension, maybe
Vivian (Bogul) should walk a different route."
Mrs. Bogul doesn't plan to change her path, however. She
must walk on certain sides of the street to see oncoming
cars around the corners, she said.
Based on her research, she thinks she is following the
rules. She even takes her dogs to her back yard to empty out
before the walk.
Her morning stroll should not be a matter for the deed
restriction committee, she said.
"If we lose our right to walk on public land, what are they
going to go after next?" she asked.
- Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.
Bridget Hall Grumet covers Pasco County government.
The Riverfront Times
Pee-Yew IQ At The Pow Wow of Pooper Scoopers
Jan 14, 2004
By Paul Friswold In The Riverfront Times
loves a good poop joke. Even a halfway-decent poop joke
garners laughs, because poop is inherently funny. Saying the
word aloud in a group of so-called adults is sure to break
up at least one immature person (usually male), which
normally leads to a chain-reaction giggle-fit.
So the decision to start a business based entirely on a
comedic cornerstone of the English language is a sure sign
that you have a good sense of humor. Debbie Levy of Yucko's
Pooper Scooper Service certainly has one, or she wouldn't
organize the Second Annual Pow Wow of Pooper Scoopers. This
three-day seminar for those in the business of cleaning up
other people's pets' business (a class of professional whom
Debbie refers to as "entre-manures") does more than just
summon super-scoopers from across the country for the
purpose of sharing tips on technique and equipment (most of
which is custom-made by industrious scoopers). The Pow Wow
also helps to raise money for the United Animal Nations, an
organization devoted to aiding animals (www.uan.org). Truly,
the Pow Wow is a way for the scoopers to give something back
to those who have given them so much.
Of course, the social conscience of the Pow Wow runs
headlong into the attendees' sense of humor. On Saturday the
scoopers will compete in the "Turd War Games." In addition
to "Turd-Herding" (the gathering of droppings in a race
against the clock), this year the experts in excrement will
test their knowledge with "Name That Turd." Here, the
pre-gathered, jar-contained specimens must be identified by
dog breed, solely by sight, not by smell or touch (Levy
notes that many pro scoopers conduct their business in a
"hands-on" fashion). Of course, spectators are welcome. Try
to keep the snickering to a minimum during this event.
First-Ever Pooper Scooper Pow-Wow: Who let
the dogs out?
Pro 'Poop Scoopers' to Share Their Wares
January 17, 2003 Posted: 10:31 AM EST By JIM SUHR,
Associated Press Writer, On CNN.com
ST. LOUIS, Missouri (AP)
The folks who've made a business of cleaning up what the
dogs leave behind are about to drop in on St. Louis for a
gathering all about the scoop on poop.
Sound like a waste of time? Not for Debbie Levy and others
across the country who spring into action whenever doody
"Smells like money to me," quips Levy, the suburban St.
Louis woman behind Yucko's Poop Scoop'n Service, the
home-based outfit she stepped into about a dozen years.
"I look at it as diamonds in the rough," says Levy, a
veteran poop scooper in what has emerged as a cottage
industry complete with its own, Levy-founded trade group
and, now, a convention.
More than 30 specialists in dog waste disposal are to
converge here Friday through Sunday for the first-ever
"Powwow of Pooper Scoopers."
There'll be guest speakers, group talks and networking.
There'll be a field trip to the American Kennel Club's
Museum of the Dog and a stop at the Gateway Arch. All of it
leads to the main event: a contest in which convention-goers
use their tools of the trade -- everything from special
rakes and hoes to tried-and-true gloved hands -- to rustle
up ersatz excrement.
#1 In The No. #2 Business:
Most estimates say a few hundred people make dealing with
dogs' No. 2 their No. 1 priority. Such ventures dot
America's landscape, from New York's Minesweepers to New
Jersey's 'In the Line of Dooty' and California's 'On Doody'
and 'We Do Doo'.
If you think it's easy money, don't hold your breath, Levy
cautions. While her five-employee Yucko's is her sole income
source, the single mother of a 6-year-old daughter warns
that prospective Scoopy Doo-ers must handle marketing, taxes
and licensing, never mind the endless snickers and
"Business has been picking up" and other puns have rolled
off Levy's tongue since she opened shop in 1990, after
stepping onto something the neighbor dog left behind.
Demand since has kept her paying the bills through the
service that charges $15 for a once-a-week visit, at least
$25 for a stop at least once a month.
Her clientele has included John Geimer, who summoned Yucko's
after his golden retriever, Jennifer, kept eliminating
outside his jewelry shop. As for cleaning it up, Geimer
says, "it's not that I didn't want to do it. It's just that
I didn't have time."
The Riverfront Times
Two Scoops: Unconventional Convention
Delivers The Poop
Jan 15, 2003
By Byron Kerman In The Riverfront Times
There is controversy in the world of dog-poop-removal
professionals. Some swear by their shovels. Others prefer
rakes. Some enjoy the ease of a broom and dustpan or a pair
of extra-long tongs. Then there are the mavericks: a few
brave souls who rely on modified log-scooping equipment
they've devised themselves in secret underground labs. Which
tools pick up waste the best, and which are the fastest?
That's the question that will be answered at the "Pow Wow of
Pooper Scoopers," a national convention for businesses that
specialize in cleaning yards full of Fido's fungoes.
Apparently it's not just bowling and gooey butter cake that
makes our town the best: St. Louis is also home to Yucko's,
one of the nation's most prominent pet-waste-removal
businesses. Yucko's received attention in the Riverfront
Times two years ago, when we reported on
their graphic advertising techniques, which drove some
community leaders to distraction. Yucko's was asked to
change its giant ads, displayed in bus shelters and
elsewhere, depicting a big brown cartoon turd and a grinning
pooch, along with the phrase "Professionals in
Turd-Herding." The company's clever rejoinder, ads with big
"CENSORED" bars over the offending offal, smoothed the
wrinkled brows of Bi-State officials. Now Yucko's has
organized the first convention for the industry.
Representatives from more than 30 businesses dedicated to
making your yard safe for touch football will converge to
compare notes and scoopers. On Saturday, the public is
invited to witness one of the most unusual races we're ever
likely to see: an outdoor poop-pickup contest featuring the
Mario Andrettis of the scoop-for-speed set. Yucko's chief
Debbie Levy reports that event planners have not decided
whether actual canine remainders or plastic facsimiles will
be used in the race. She also warns that some of the
competitors plan to use their hands (in rubber gloves,
right?). "That's what a turd-herder does best," says Levy.
"They're gonna have to show us their best shit."
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Local Odd Jobbers Say Somebody's Got To Do It
12:00 AM By Diane Toroian Of the Post-Dispatch
When it comes right down to it, most of us have odd jobs.
Just look at your wacky colleagues, your eccentric boss and
your fussy customers. No question, the curiosity of your
9-to-5 life would astonish many observers. But then there
are those St. Louisans whose jobs take odd to the next
level. We caught up with three such workers - a pool table
doctor, a pooper-scooper and a headstone salesman - and
talked about their roots, the tricks of the trade and why
their odd jobs suit them.
Business: Yucko's, Maryland Heights
Debra Levy knows folks think her job is odd, but she's not
sure why. Housekeepers get paid to wash floors. Landscapers
get paid to cut grass. So why shouldn't Levy get paid to
collect doggy doo?
"This country was born on service, and I'm providing a
service people want," said Levy, mother to two Chihuahuas.
"Think about it. Everybody has stepped in it once in their
life. A lot of people can't handle the gag factor or they
don't have the time or they physically can't do it.
Levy started her pooper-scooper service, Yucko's, 12 years
ago. She spent the first few years in the field, so to
speak, before hiring a crew of five so-called "turd-herders"
to clean yards across St. Louis and St. Charles counties.
She charges $15 to clean the average yard. Yucko's also
sells biodegradable litter bags, pet signs and Yucko's
"Doing the Doo" T-shirts through its Web site,
Levy declines to say how much she makes or how much she pays
her staff. She will say that one employee - a single mom
with few resources - was able to buy a new house on her
Yucko's wages after a mere two years.
"We call it the house that (doo) built," said Levy, with a
Right now, Levy is busy organizing this week's national
convention of pooper-scoopers here in St. Louis.
Believe it or not, these pros have a lot to talk about it.
"We want to create a national directory of scoopers and
think of new ways to build awareness," said Levy. "What we
do is not just a cosmetic thing. It's healthier for your dog
and for your children. Animals carry various parasites and
But the convention promises plenty of laughs too, said Levy.
After all, in this business, you need a sense of humor.
"I'm very excited about the turd-herding contest. Part of
being a turd-herder is being able to identify (the piles) in
different lighting, in the leaves, in the snow. To us, it's
like diamonds in the rough," said Levy. "People wonder how
we can stand it, but it all smells like money to me.
January 9, 2003 By Richard Adams On The Guardian
Something to look forward to this month: the second annual
meeting of the Association of Professional Animal Waste
Specialists (aPaws), "a pow-wow of pooper-scoopers"
according to its publicity. Although this may be faintly
comic, aPaws takes itself very seriously, as the
organization's "statement of philosophy" on its website
makes clear: "Members shall not denigrate the honesty or
competence of any fellow colleague, or partake in actions or
business practices which would result in dishonour to, or
distrust of, his/her competitors or the animal waste
industry in general." Quite right.
The Riverfront Times
Deep Doo-Doo: A Professional Poop-Scoopin'
Business Raises Stink Over A Crappy Ad
2000 By Adam Pitluk In The Riverfront Times
Ah, to remember the days of old. At the turn of the century
(that's the fur-trader-and-beaver-trapper
turn-of-the-century and not Y2K), St. Louis and her outlying
towns were rough-and-tumble. Twisting trails ran through
what would become St. Louis County, and lush forests
blanketed the landscape. Into this untamed wilderness came
some of those crazy foreign cowboys of old, the French. They
settled places like Chesterfield and Creve Coeur and left
their footprints elsewhere. Frontenac, for example, was
named by wannabe-Frenchman Benjamin Wood after his travels
through Quebec. Seems these early white settlers wanted to
make a Versailles of their very own in the New World. And,
as the world knows, the French like having stuff done for
them. After all, these are the people who still brag about
giving us the Statue of Liberty, who are widely regarded as
unenthusiastic when it comes to personal hygiene and who
even embraced Jerry Lewis as a national hero.
Although there are no big French communities in West County
anymore, old habits die hard. There's money in these parts,
as well as some well-endowed folks who like taking advantage
of the finer things in life while letting others do their
Enter Yucko's, the heavyweight champions of, as the French
say, la merde. Yucko's, the self-proclaimed No. 1
service in the No. 2 business, specializes in dog-poop
removal. But make no mistake: This is not just a
waste-disposal service. The people of Yucko's are the
laborers who comb the big backyards of the bourgeoisie,
searching for piles of stinky.
"I mean, hey, that's what we do do. It's poop!" says Debbie
Levy, Yucko's founder and chief executive officer. "No dog,
no job too big or small. We're not afraid of nothin'."
Levy is the head entremanure of her K-9 excrement business.
Since the inception of Yucko's in 1990, the company has
doubled in revenue every two years. Levy, 42, won't disclose
the company's sales in 1999 but says they're in the six
figures -- and that's no bull.
But, Levy says, her business has taken a hit because of her
recent clash with the Bi-State Development Agency and Wall
USA Inc., a German company that constructs those new
Euro-looking bus-stop shelters that line major thoroughfares
like Lindbergh Boulevard. Yucko's had a contract for five
shelter signs to be displayed every month until November
2000. One was to be placed in front of ritzy Plaza
Frontenac. The controversial advertisement depicted a
cartoon dog staring at a pile of poop about 3 feet taller
than he. The dog sports an overly happy look on his mug -- a
shit-eatin' grin, as it were -- as though the dog knows he's made a mess but
you get to clean it up.
Yucko's, the ad notes, is the place to go for "Professionals
Exactly why anyone would bill himself a "turd-herder" is a
question in and of itself. But the signs wound up gracing
Wall USA bus shelters in Frontenac and Creve Coeur, putting
some local residents' panties in a twist. Bi-State officials
say they received several phone calls from angry citizens
saying they would prefer not to stare at cartoon crap while
driving down Lindbergh. Seems youngsters riding shotgun in
BMWs were asking, "What is a turd?" Sacré bleu!
Sensitive to the uproar, Bi-State official Thomas Sturgess
fired off a letter to Wall USA, demanding the immediate
removal of these signs.
"I am of the opinion that it is not in good taste and is
inconsistent with the positive public image that we strive
for as part of our corporate values," the letter states.
"Specifically, I refer to the 'Turd Herding' wording and the
large brown pile in the center of the sign.... Such language
may be common in some parts of society today, but it is
vulgar and not acceptable or what we want the Agency to be
Because Wall USA essentially must do whatever Bi-State tells
them, the signs came down on March 10.
"We give Bi-State a very small percentage of our revenues
each year as a payment for being the company we contracted
with," says Kippy Burns, Wall USA general manager. "Part of
our agreement with them is, not only do we have to have a
particular performance specification, but if the advertising
is deemed inappropriate to a particular community standard
or to Bi-State's corporate ethics, they can ask us to remove
the copy, and that's what happened here."
Wall USA has a 15-year contract with Bi-State to erect and
maintain 400 bus shelters. All 400 will carry advertising,
and the company's profit, for the most part, is generated
through these signs.
Levy says her business was "booming" when the signs were up
and complains that business has slowed since their removal.
Before the signs, she says, she was averaging two or three
phone calls a day. But after the turd-herders went public,
she claims, Yucko's was getting about seven calls a day --
an increase of more than 100 percent!
Bi-State's disapproval, Levy says, put a chill on the
business, threatening the livelihoods of productive members
of society -- folks like Turd-Herder No. 1, Harry the
Executive Pooper-Scooper, Fat Bob and the silent worker, a
part-time Yucko's employee who prefers to stay out of the
Levy raised a stink with Wall USA and Bi-State. She
complained about censorship, the narrow-mindedness of some
folks ("People are afraid to talk about poop," she
observes), the plain injustice of it all. Ultimately,
Yucko's yielded to the bus company and popular prejudice.
Working with an advertising agent (who also prefers to
remain anonymous), Yucko's retooled its bus-shelter ad. The
new version features the same rascally dog and the word
"Censored" coming both out of his butt and running across
the bottom of the sign where "Turd-Herding" used to be. The
ad has been approved, and Wall USA agreed to pay for the
printing of the new signs.
In the end, everything appears to have worked itself out.
And for Yucko's, the future appears bright and brown. The
company has already started work with other animal feces and
will continue to rise to the occasion.
"We've picked up goose poop," Levy says, way too
enthusiastically. "We used to have a customer who had a
pot-bellied pig, and we did the Mardi Gras one time. I tried
to give away the Anheuser horses' poop, but nobody would
And, contrary to popular belief, the Yucko's staffers do not
put the poop in paper bags, place the bags on people's door
stoops and set them on fire.
Yucko's charges $15 a pop, on average, but cost varies,
depending on the size of the yard and the number of dogs.
Of course, you could just pick up your own dog's shit for
St. Louis Post Dispatch
A Dirty Job, But Yucko's Owner Says Business Is Picking Up
Monday, October 30,
1995 By Jim Gallagher, Section: Business Plus
Debra is a nice-looking redhead, but she has trouble getting
dates. She thinks her job is the problem. "A guy looks at me
and he thinks, 'She's 38 and she's not married and she makes
her living picking up. . . .' They don't know if I'm
eccentric or crazy." Debbie runs "Yucko's: Your
Pooper-Scooper Service." The job does not lend itself to
thoughts of romance. Yucko's will come to your house and
clean up after your dog. Scoop in hand, Yucko's has also
been known to follow after pigs, geese, pigeons and an
If you went to the Mardi Gras parade in Soulard a couple of
years ago, you saw her in action. She was the one following
the Clydesdales with a shovel. Debra did not grow up
intending to run such a service. She used to help run a
boutique. When that job fizzled, she began looking for a
business she could start with no money. At a backyard
barbecue one day, she began chatting about the problem with
friend Bob Kemmerling. inspiration struck as she gazed out
over the lawn. "I said, `Bob, everybody must have stepped in
it once in their life. There has to be a need.' " The cost
of entry was certainly low.
Debbie thought of the corporate name while looking at a baby
diaper. With Kemmerling as her partner, Debra began her
marketing campaign with an ad in the Jewish Light. She's
also tried ads on cable TV, the Ladue News, direct mail and
gift certificates. One woman customer bought Yucko's gift
certificates, attached them to a framed picture of the
family dog, and gave it to her husband for Christmas. For
the fashion conscious, there is now a line of Yucko's
T-shirts and baseball caps.
Advertising is a necessity. Word-of-mouth doesn't work for a
pooper-scooper service. "People don't sit around at formal
dinners talking about this stuff," she said. The ads produce
a bumper crop of crank calls. "They call at midnight and
say, `I've got an elephant in my back yard,' " Debbie said.
One prankster called everyone he knew with a beeper and left
Yucko's telephone number. Debbie found herself explaining
Yucko's to a flock of confused beeper-holders. The ads also
produce a lot of legitimate business. Debbie has developed a
technique for dealing with first-time callers, who often
don't know what to say to a professional scooper. "They go
`uhhh, uhhhh,' " said Debbie. "You've got to get them
laughing, then they talk up a storm. "They'll ask, `How do
you charge?' " `By tonnage,' I'll say." Actually, she
charges by the size of the yard and number of dogs. A
typical yard costs about $15 per weekly visit. Most of her
clients are affluent people in Ladue, Clayton and south St.
Louis County. They're too busy to do the job themselves,
said Debra. Take John Geimer, owner of Geimer's Jewelry in
Clayton. Geimer brings his dog, Jennifer, to work with him.
One day the landlord called and said, "There's so much dog
stuff out here, and you've got the only dog." Geimer thinks
Jennifer is unfairly maligned for the deeds of other dogs in
the neighborhood. But to keep the peace, he hired Yucko's.
"It's great. It keeps everybody happy," he says.
Debra is coy about the number of customers she serves. But
business is good enough that she has hired one full-time
helper and is considering bringing on another. "My only
problem is when a dog dies. I lost two dogs in one week,"
she said. "Then I found a dog and I started calling my
customers. If I can get the dog in there, I figure I'll have
them for 10 years. An injured to her neck and made it hard
for her to look down - a requirement in the pooper-scooper
trade. These days she spend managing Yucko's. Kemmerling has
since moved to the Lake of the Ozarks, where he's opened a
branch of Yucko's. So, most of Yucko's dirty work in St.
Louis now falls to Debra hired hand, Marty Graham. Graham,
26, is a bearded guy who wears a baseball cap backward. He
was a construction worker before he found Yucko's. The job's
a breeze, he says. "You just have to watch where you step
and keep upwind. My boss, she's real cool. There's no boss
standing over your head telling you what to do." He doesn't
mind telling his friends what he does for a living. "Some of
them don't believe me. Some guys get a kick out of it."
Besides, the pay's not bad. It's enough to help support his
wife and two kids. As for Debra, she has dreams of grandeur