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Sean McHugh had seen enough.

While walking his family’s mini apricot poodle, Elvis, in his Pearl Street neighborhood, the Santa Monica High School senior was overwhelmed by the animal droppings: on the sidewalk, in the street, on residents’ lawns. He felt as if he were walking through a minefield of fecal matter.

McHugh and his mother started thinking about all of the negative consequences of pets’ waste — not just the unsightliness, smell and toxicity, but also the ill will it can create in a community.

“We wanted to change it,” McHugh said.

McHugh decided to use his Eagle Scout project as an opportunity to address the issue in Santa Monica. He and other members of Troop No. 2 are constructing tubed bag dispensers that residents can put outside to encourage pet owners to clean up after their animals.

McHugh said he read about the success of similar initiatives in Arizona and Colorado, so he figured it was worth trying in Santa Monica. He added that pet owners might not have easy access to bags and that they might not be aware of the environmental impacts of their inaction.
“It’s neighbors helping each other out,” he said. “It’s a good system.”

Of the 50 tubes that McHugh and his troop peers are building, 30 will be distributed publicly through a sign-up drive from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 11, at the Santa Monica Animal Shelter, 1640 9th St., which is located between Olympic Boulevard and Colorado Avenue. The tubes will then be delivered Sunday, April 19.

An additional 20 tubes will be donated to the animal shelter.

McHugh said he’s responsible for financing the project and that he’s seeking donations from area hardware stores.

For McHugh, a longtime dog owner, this project isn’t necessarily the precursor to a career in zoology or veterinary medicine. Rather, he said, it’s a potential solution to a common local issue.

“I don’t plan to go into the field, but I want to help my community in some way,” he said. “I thought this would be a good fit.”

McHugh, who attended Will Rogers Elementary School and John Adams Middle School, has been a Cub Scout since he was in first grade and joined Troop No. 2 in fifth grade. He’s worked at the troop’s annual Christmas tree lot and participated in a variety of service projects.

McHugh is currently the Associated Student Body senior class vice president at Samohi and a member of the varsity baseball team. In the fall he’ll attend the University of California, Berkeley, where he plans to study business.

For more information about the Eagle Scout service project, contact McHugh at

Contact Jeff Goodman at 310-573-8351, or on Twitter.

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