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October 1, 2014

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The business of a dog’s business can be lucrative

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L.E. Baskow

Curtis Murphy of Klean Scoop visits with Booker, one of the many dogs he has befriended along his route on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014.

Curtis Murphy of Klean Scoop

Curtis Murphy of Klean Scoop visits with Booker, one of the many dogs he has befriended along his route on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014. Launch slideshow »

FINES ASSOCIATED WITH FAILURE TO SCOOP

Failing to pick up after your dog is illegal in the Las Vegas Valley. Here’s what you could face if you don’t clean up:

• Henderson: Fine of not more than $1,000 and/or imprisonment for a term not more than six months.

• Clark County: Misdemeanor fine of $100 for first offense, $250 for second offense and $500 for subsequent offenses.

• Las Vegas: Civil infraction with $150 fine.

• North Las Vegas: Misdemeanor fine of not more than $1,000 and/or imprisonment for a term not more than six months.

Curtis Murphy quietly lets himself into the backyard of a suburban home in Mountain’s Edge and begins the search, his eyes scouring the ground like some sleuth.

He’s in jeans and an old pair of sneakers. He’s carrying a small, soft-tine rake and a large blue dustpan. A beagle discovers him, runs around the yard, howling and playfully nipping at his heels.

Murphy and the beagle, Booker, are professional buddies. Murphy comes along once a week to pick up Booker’s business.

For this, Rachel Bearden pays Murphy $34 a month.

“I got tired of going outside to clean it up,” she said, sighing. “I said, ‘There’s got to be an easier way.’”

Murphy, 55, is one of more than a dozen entrepreneurs in the Las Vegas Valley who get paid to pick up after other people’s dogs. They go by such names as Pet Butler, Poo-Snatchers and Happy Pets. Murphy launched his business, KleanScoop, 11 years ago. The work may seem demeaning, but consider this: Murphy figures on making $85,000 this year. Not bad for a high school dropout.

“It ain’t a glamorous job, but it pays the bills,” Murphy said. “Money is money. It’ll stink all the way to the bank.”

Between a third and a half of Las Vegas households have dogs, according to some estimates. With low overhead and a little bit of training, this business isn’t just lucrative — it’s competitive.

During the summer months, when pet owners clamor for his services, Murphy has noticed college students and rival businesses tailing his brown pickup truck. They’ll leave fliers behind at his clients’ doorsteps, trying to poach them with lower prices.

“It’s a dog-eat-dog business,” he said.

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