It’s a necessary part of going for a walk that any dog owner is familiar with. At some point our furry friends will have to deposit their doo-doo, which will need to be scooped.
Many pet owners own a yard where they can let their pup out to potty, without the need for a leash and cleanup bag, but that creates a landscape of stinky landmines. That’s where Dave Johnson, owner of Johnson Pet Waste Removal, comes to the rescue.
“I got the idea from a good friend of mine,” says Johnson. “We were passing around business ideas and he said I could make a million dollars picking up dog poop.”
After some research into the market and seeing the need for residential pet waste removal, Johnson decided to take the plunge into self-employment in January of 2022. He was able to build his business to the point where he quit his full-time job in October of 2022, and has been growing steadily since.
It’s a simple and effective business model that he runs predominantly with a truck and a cell phone. His brightly wrapped truck conveys the light-hearted attitude that Johnson brings to his serious business, featuring cartoon puppies and slogans like “They poop, we scoop.”
Indiana ranks sixth in the nation for dog ownership according to the American Veterinary Medical Association Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook, with a whopping 49.4% of households owning a dog, and households that do own dogs owning an average of 1.6. With 2.6 million households in Indiana, according to the latest census data, there are roughly two million dogs pooping every single day in Indiana. That’s a lot of scooping to be done.
Though still a one-man operation, Johnson has aspirations to add in staff as he grows his client base. “The summer is the worst time for business, but during the fall and the spring I can’t even keep up with all the calls I get,” he says.
Single-family residences are the majority of his clientele currently, though he is looking to expand into apartment complexes, dog parks and city parks. Cleanliness is important in public spaces where dogs are likely to converge, because of the risk for animals to pass diseases to each other (and to humans) through their fecal matter. While pet waste removal isn’t a highly regulated industry, Johnson takes the well-being of his clients’ pets seriously and puts safety first.
“I bleach all my tools after every time I clean someone’s yard,” he says.