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|Town's horses leave behind more than Old West feel|
|Written by Natalie Schwab|
|Saturday, 30 April 2011 18:14|
When he gets the call, Chris Clarke grabs his shovel and black trash bag, jumps into his rusty blue Ford Ranger pickup and makes his way hastily through the streets in search of one thing. Poop.
"I got it all!" he yells out the truck window to the driver of the Old Butterfield Stage Coach as it passes.
It's not a fun job, but without him and the other workers who clean up after the animals, the town of Tombstone would be in deep doo doo — literally.
Horse- and mule-drawn stagecoaches and carriages are a token of the Old West, and give Tombstone its authentic Western feel. But when the animals aren't picked up after, it can create unsanitary and outright gross conditions.
According to Tombstone's Animal Control Officer Jim Everetts, known around town as Rattler, there are laws on the books that require whoever is riding the horse to clean up after it, though they aren't very strict.
"I can cite them for failure to clean it up," he said. "I can cite them into court, or I can give them a verbal or written warning."
The provision states that failure to promptly remove waste can also result in loss or suspension of animal-use permits.
Everetts also said there is a fine associated with not cleaning waste, but he is not sure how much it is.
Most of the horses that pull the stagecoaches and carriages wear catch bags, which are much like a diaper.
Dusty Escapule, former mayor of Tombstone and owner of the Old Tombstone Tours, does not have to deal with his horses dropping on the streets because of the catch bags. He says the bags are changed each time they go.
Escapule has also trained his horses not to urinate in the street. He takes them to a special location twice a day where they can go.
Clarke, a salesman for the Old Butterfield Stage Coach, gets a call from his driver whenever the mules drop, and drives out to pick it up promptly.
He says the biggest problem is the people who ride into town.
"Most of the other people that ride into town independently just don't care," he said. "They leave it there."
There is currently no law that says how much time the owners have to clean up after their animals, but they are encouraged to do so promptly.
"We would like them to pick it up within an hour," said Everetts. "That's what we'd like them to do. But if they say, 'Well, we're going to come back and clean it up later,' I can tell them 'I would appreciate it if you did it now.' But there's nothing that I can do to actually force them to clean it up then and there."
Most of the horse manure is taken to the dump, but it can be used for other things as well.
"Some people carry bags with them to clean it up and they take it home because they want to use it for fertilizer," said Everetts. "Others take it out in the desert. So there's a majority of things that they do with it."
Overall, horse poop isn't a major issue in Tombstone.
"Sometimes it can be a problem," said Everetts. "It depends, you know. Like if they take a dump in front of a store, you get some storeowners that get upset about it. You get some tourists that might walk in it and get upset. Other people love it, because it brings back the Old West feeling."