Polly Peters and her English springer spaniel, Zoe. Ms. Peters is a charter member of Keep Evanston Beautiful’s PUP Team. Photo courtesy of Mayre Press

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May is National Pet Month, with pet lovers celebrating the benefits of pet guardianship and showing special support for pet adoption.

Thanks to a program launched by Keep Evanston Beautiful last summer, dog-walkers can help keep their neighborhoods litter-free. Pick-Up Patrol, or PUP Team, is the anti-litter program targeted to engage dog guardians who will use their daily walk as an eco-friendly exercise. PUP encourages dog walkers to bring an extra bag and pick up the occasional can, bottle or snack-food wrapper along the way.

Ron Bottrell, who spearheaded PUP, said the program has been dormant during the cold weather months. “At the end of last fall there were 35 team members,” he said. “Our goal for 2011 is to raise that number to 100 volunteers.”

As with most activities involving volunteers, recruitment is key. To that end, PUP is seeking people to become neighborhood recruiters and enlist fellow dog-lovers for the team. “Face-to-face conversations while out on a dog walk are the best way to recruit new volunteers,” Mr. Bottrell said.

PUP Team members who stop to chat with other pet-lovers can show the litter they collected during a morning or afternoon walk. It is much easier to make a point through “show and tell” than it is to talk about neighborhood litter. Bottrell notes that plastic and glass bottles and
aluminum cans are the most common items picked up.

“As a resident of Southeast Evanston, I’ve recruited plenty of PUP Team members in that part of town. Recruiters and volunteers are needed in the Northeast, Northwest, Southwest and West sides of Evanston,” he said.

Membership in the PUP Team is free, and members receive a Keep Evanston Beautiful green bandanna for their dog – the team uniform. The key benefit, though, is the satisfaction in taking action that makes this lovely, historic city even more beautiful. Details and sign-up for Pick-Up-Patrol Team are available at evanstonkeb@sbcglobal.net or the KEB office at 847-448-4856, ext. 105.

Several local pet-related events are scheduled during National Pet Month. A popular one is the 16th annual Strut for Strays on May 14, with step-off at 9:30 a.m. at the Ladd Arboretum, near the corner of McCormick Boulevard and Bridge Street.

The walkathon benefits the Community Animal Rescue Effort (C.A.R.E.). Animal-loving people, with or without their canine friends, are encouraged to participate in the 3-mile walk. More information about C.A.R.E. and Strut for Strays is available at 847-705-2653.

Cat-lovers may want to visit the special adoption event held by Felines, Inc., on the last Saturday of every month from 12-2 p.m. at Urbanimal, 1257 W. Devon Ave., in Chicago. It is a great opportunity to meet some adoptable cats and kittens. Details are available by emailing info@felinesinc.org or by calling 773-465-4132.

Contact Eco Gal at ecogal247@yahoo.com or read her blog at http://askecogal.blogspot.com