Friday, July 15, 2011

Dog poop solution: It’s in the bag

by Justine Asohmbom, Puget Sound Educator


Summertime is an exciting, beautiful time of year to enjoy the Puget Sound outdoors with our families and our family pets – particularly our dogs. But I’ve done more than a few quicksteps around doggie poop on our sidewalks and open spaces. It’s something that’s given me cause to pause and ponder.

Have you ever stepped in dog poop?

Have you ever walked your dog and kept going after Spot, Fido, or Wrinkles made a pile?

There’s no doubt that picking up after your dog isn’t fun. But believe me, it’s worse for the poor souls (and soles!) that come after you. And, believe it or not, dog poop is a human health hazard. It is a source of pollution for our streams, lakes and Puget Sound.

Stepping in poop is a nuisance (and can ruin parties, too)

You may think a few dog piles in the grass by the roadside doesn’t really hurt anyone. My daughter and her friends know better. They will tell you it certainly does!

A couple of years ago, my daughter invited her friends for her birthday party. When they arrived, everyone noticed an awful smell and dark spots on our carpet. One girl, holding her nose, yelled out, “Something stinks!” Lo and behold, three girls had dog poop on their shoes.

Now I don't own a dog but someone had left fresh dog poop on the parking strip in front of my house. This was embarrassing! We spent nearly an hour trying to scrape that awful stuff out of the shoes and carpet. Not the fondest of birthday memories!

I understand if you dislike picking up after your dog but don’t think it will just decompose and do no harm.

Poop can be hazardous to your health

Dog poop is raw sewage. It contains bacteria like Giardia and parasites like roundworms that can cause diseases. A single gram of dog waste can contain an estimated 23 million fecal coliform bacteria — known to cause cramps, diarrhea, intestinal illness, and serious kidney disorders in humans. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pet waste can contribute to diseases animals pass to humans, called zoonoses (zoo’-oh-nos’-is).

When you leave your dog’s infected poop on a lawn, roundworm eggs and other parasites can linger in the soil for years. Anyone who comes into contact with that fouled soil – while gardening, playing sports, walking barefoot or other means runs the risk of coming into contact with those parasite eggs. Dogs especially run the risk of being infected.

Poop pollutes our local waters

When it rains, stormwater carries dog poop from sidewalks, lawns and other open spaces directly to local water bodies and eventually washes into Puget Sound. The bacteria in dog poop can make water unsafe for recreation and fishing. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indentifies pet waste as a major cause of water pollution. The EPA says that two or three days of droppings from just 100 dogs in a 20-square-mile watershed can contribute enough bacteria and nutrients to temporarily close a bay to swimming and shellfish harvesting.

By leaving your dog’s poop un-scooped, you not only risk someone’s nice shoes, you risk your own, your neighbors’ and your children’s health and the environment.

Dog poop is a problem, but it’s easy to solve. Check out this new video about scooping your dog’s poop.

What can you do to help?

Take a plastic bag with you on every walk with your dog. With the bag over your hand, pick it up, bag it and trash it. That’s it. Nothing fancy, expensive, or even dirty!

Be a great neighbor for good health, clean yards, clean shoes (and paws!), clean carpets and clean water.

For more information about the video, see The Scoop on “Dog Doogity” and dog waste in our waters

To learn more about what you can do to help, see: Washington Waters - Ours to Protect

Also see the Pacific Shellfish Institute's brochure: "Pet Waste: What's the problem?".

Tell us your dog poop stories. Have you ever stepped in dog poop? And would you tell a stranger to scoop their dog’s poop?

1 comment:

Anthony said...

My neighbors dog has been pooping in our front yard for a long time. She just lets the dog out the front door and run free. Well she always poops in our yard. I have asked her politely to pick up the poop, but she does not care to. My wife has even talked to her about it. Myself, my son, my wife, family and friends have all stepped in it before entering my house. I am really getting fed up with it and do not know what to do. A fence would not look appropriate in my front yard. Please help us.