The Payson Humane Society's annual aluminum can drive -- the shelter's primary source of income -- is under way.
Organized and operated by a special group of volunteers who call themselves the Dumpster Divers, the year-round fund-raiser starts in February with a major public awareness campaign, according to self-appointed chief dumpster diver Lisa Boyle.
"On a year-round basis, aluminum is our only constant source of income," Boyle said. "We need people to start dropping off their cans now, and to keep dropping them off all year."
Nowadays, special black-and-white dumpsters painted to resemble Dalmatians are strategically located around town where cans can be dropped off, but in the early days of the program the Dumpster Divers did just that -- dive through dumpsters all over town to salvage aluminum cans for the shelter.
"We did the Dalmatian paint jobs before the last rodeo, so we were just a little more stand-outish," Boyle said.
Even these days, the divers supplement the cans dropped off at the Dalmatian dumpsters by combing through dumpsters after rodeos and at other prime locations.
"We come in right after the rodeo is over and gather up the cans, and then we go through all of the trash," Boyle said.
Any Dumpster Diver will tell you that rodeo dumpsters are among the nastiest anywhere.
"There's fry bread, beans, spit and all the other unsightly things that are in rodeo dumpsters," Boyle said. "There's all kinds of gross stuff."
Dalmatian dumpsters are located by the police department building at Payson Town Hall, the humane society at 812 S. McLane, and at the old artisans building in Pine. Boyle also has one in front of her house at 508 S. Manzanita.
"I've had it there for a couple of years and you'd be amazed how many cans I get just by going around to my neighbors," Boyle said.