Joel Burke likes to consider himself a conscientious dog owner in a neighborhood where people are, well, not always meticulous about cleaning up after their pets.

To encourage people to abide by the rules of polite society, he created a plastic-bag dispenser he hung near the sidewalk of his German Village house.

"The idea was there was a lot of conversation of dog owners in the neighborhood leaving sidewalk 'souvenirs,' " he said. "Everyone does forget a bag every once in a while."

After he attached four of the dispensers to utility poles throughout the neighborhood, he said the demand for them grew.

Since June, he has made 12, eight of which have been sold in the neighborhood, in Schumacher Place and in Grandview Heights.

"The need is clear," said Burke, the owner of a chow mix named Logan.

"And, I'd like to think that the more that there are, the more people will use them."

Altruism is only part of his motivation for creating Neighborhood Dog Stop, the company that sells the dispensers.

German Village is an historic, pedestrian-oriented community with a lot of out-of-town visitors.

The other reason for his effort is entrepreneurial.

"I enjoy starting little businesses to see how they do," said Burke, a designer at NBBJ, an architectural firm.

Burke, 34, said he has both a mechanical and creative mind. He once developed custom tap handles for local bars, an idea that did not flourish.

He designs and hand-crafts the dispensers, which cost $30 each. They can be purchased online at

Burke, who grew up in the Northland neighborhood and graduated from St. Francis DeSales High School, said $5 from every sale goes toward Columbus Humane, formerly the Capital Area Humane Society.

He admits the enterprise does not have a strong business model, but he plans to keep building dispensers as long as the demand is there.

"I hope that people use them," he said. "I don't see me retiring on them."

Kerry Shaw, director of development for Columbus Humane, said she appreciates Burke's donations.

"Every little bit helps," Shaw said. "It's amazing the impact a small donation can make for each animal."

The placement of the dispensers could become a thorny issue for Burke or his customers.

The German Village Commission has a say on what people do on their private properties, but less jurisdiction over utility poles in the right of way.

Both American Electric Power and the city of Columbus, the entities that own utility poles in the city, have policies that address the issue.

Columbus City Code states people "... Shall not display or advertise any merchandise or services from any utility pole, sign, tree, planter, trash container, parking meter" or similar apparatuses.

AEP Ohio policies state posters, signs and similar objects are not permitted to be attached to poles, said Scott Fuller, spokesman for the company.

Nails, pins and staples can tear protective clothing and cause harm to the linemen working for AEP, Fuller said.

"We definitely advise people to not put stuff on those poles," he said.

Burke said when he attaches the waste-dispensers to utility poles, he uses a plastic band and doesn't damage the pole.

He said he has never been asked to remove any of his dispensers.