Vanderbilt students create solutions for dog business' waste problem

Posted: 5:35 PM, Mar 15, 2019
Updated: 2019-03-15 19:54:58-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Students at Vanderbilt are turning a stinky problem into a solution for a North Carolina based business owner, and it might create a new business in Tennessee.

Dan Spangler, of A Dog's Dream, was given a warning at his full-service dog center in Eastern North Carolina for having rusty pooper scoopers.

Spangler's business takes care of about 50-60 dogs per day which can amount to a lot of waste. When he tried to find scoopers that lasted longer and wouldn't rust, he learned that there aren't many options out on the market.

So, he took his problem to Vanderbilt University's maker space and the class "How to make almost anything".

Three engineering students took on the task of making a better scooper in a pet industry devoid of tools for the everyday pet business owner.

"We would brainstorm, kind of think about what we would do," said Vanderbilt Student Caitlin Allison. "Then we would kind of make a quick prototype, see if it was working, talk to the sponsor, go back to the front and do everything over and over again until we got to a place where we felt we had a product that we could move forward with."

Spangler would check in with the students and together they would make improvements to the product until they came up with something they believe could solve a lot of problems in the $73 billion dollar per year industry.

The scooper has a large bin, a handle that's not hard on the wrist and a hose connection so that cleaning the bin is easy. It's made out of durable plastic and the students have 3D printed parts so the scooper stands on its own.

"Every time we talk, we come up with a better plan, and that's what we're moving to," said Spangler. "We've come up with something that we feel is a very solid idea, and it's something that's not on the market. I've been in this industry going on 20 years and unfortunately, the pooper scooper is the old school world and nobody's really re-invented it and that's what we're here to do."

Pictures of Spangler's old scooper show that it's just a metal pole with a bent metal bin at the bottom. He said there's not much more than that available on the market.