BOTTOM LINE : Redefining the Doggie Bag

"Look, there goes one of my clients," says Chris Crosson excitedly, pointing at the tail end of a golden retriever as we sit in a Balboa Island coffee shop. "Yea for dogs!" he says, laughing.

Crosson has good reason to rejoice: He's president of Doggie Walk Bags, which has sold 250,000 of the pooper-scoopers-in-a-capsule that are a hot item among Orange County dog owners.

"I became fed up with having to avoid dog nuisances whenever I walked around my neighborhood," says the Irvine resident, who does not own a dog. ("I replaced my dog with a 1-year-old son.") So Crosson began experimenting with alternatives to the shovel and brown bag.

Although his first invention, a cumbersome lunch box-type device, was unsuccessful, he persisted. In 1991, Crosson, who is also a life insurance executive, made a hit with his one-inch plastic capsules.

The capsules, which contain blue polyethylene bags, are sold in several Orange County pet stores as well as in dispensers at some parks and other public lands. (PetCare in Redondo Beach is the only L.A. County outlet.) In Laguna Beach, for example, Doggie Walk Bag dispensers have been installed in several parks and along the boardwalk. The seaside resort is very serious about canine fanciers who shirk their doggie duties--11 people were cited on a recent Saturday.

John Kellogg walks his yellow Labrador, Buddy, on Laguna's boardwalk about once a week. The quarter he drops in the Doggie Walk Bag vending machine at the beginning of each trek is well spent, Kellogg says. "It's a small price to pay for keeping this area clean," Kellogg says. "Besides, Buddy is a big dog and I wouldn't want to come upon his mess in the dark."

Alas, Crosson has solved one problem only to discover another. His Laguna Beach dispensers have become favorite resting spots for sea gulls, who frequently drop and fly.

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