Columbia’s Dirty Jobs: The poop scooper

Sunday, November 4, 2007 | 4:35 p.m. CST; updated 12:57 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008
David Jacks, the owner of Scoop-n-Doo, cleans up after a job in a north Columbia neighborhood. Jacks has been operating his business since 1994 and enjoys the flexibility of his job. Aside from dogs, Jacks has picked up after llamas, pot-bellied pigs and other animals.

Name: David Jacks

Age: 41

Occupation: Owner and operator of Scoop-N-Doo

What do you do?

“Depending upon where people live, once a week I come by their house and pick up the dog waste, the crap, from their yard, and I haul it off with me,” Jacks said.

He started Scoop-N-Doo in January of 1995 and operates it out of his home.

Why do you do it?

Jacks was floating down the Missouri River with a friend in 1994 when the idea for a waste removal service was born. At the time, he was a technician with Coca-Cola looking for a more flexible job.

“I always had in the back of my mind coming up with a business that not everybody was out there doing,” Jacks said.

Jacks then became a driver for Roadway Express, a trucking company, which gave him more time to focus on his new project. Driving on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays, Jacks began “scoopin’ doo” on Wednesdays and Thursdays. After a year, when he garnered a strong enough clientele, Jacks turned scooping into his only job.

What animals do you clean up after?

After 12 years, Jacks said he has cleaned up after horses, cows, llamas, pot belly pigs, dogs and cats. He serves approximately 600 dogs, including kennels and commercial accounts such as the MU animal hospital.

How do you pick it up?

Although he won’t give away his secret, Jacks said he’s modified a commercial-style scooper to use in his day-to-day service calls. Jacks had to continually replace other scoopers, which easily broke under stress.

“Honestly, it’s taken me 12 years to come up with the scooper that I use,” he said.

What do you like about your job?

“The freedom to have more time with my family, that’s what kind of generated the business to start with,” Jacks said. “To work less, get the kids out of day care and spend time with them.” On holidays such as Columbus Day, Kaleb, 12, and Kylie, 10, will accompany their dad on the job. Each child even has his and her own scooper.

What do you dislike about your job?

“The worst part of my job is being a bill collector, it’s not picking up the crap,” Jacks said.

What’s your most memorable moment on the job?

A few years ago, Jacks had a customer with two dogs, a Shih Tzu and a chow. The Shih Tzu liked to help Jacks with his job.

“(The dog) would walk around and sniff and snort at the other dogs’ piles until I would pick it up,” Jacks said. “He’d do a half-sneeze, he’d wag his tail and go to the next one.”

What might people not know about your job?

It’s an easy job to procrastinate and often easy to let get out of hand. He said people often overlook the harmful effects of letting feces reside in the lawn. It can contribute to viruses and bacteria in water and, contrary to popular belief, Jacks said animal poop is not adequate fertilizer.

“If it was a good fertilizer then us humans would be spreading our own crap in our yards,” he said.

Besides, he said, “It’s not good for any mammal to have to live in its own poop.”

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