The Scoop on Dog Poop
Poop happens – it’s just natural. So why is it so important to pick it up?
The main factor is volume. Consider:
- The over-70 million dogs in the US produce 10 million tons of feces every year.
- There are 23 million bacteria in 1 gram of dog feces; add in any parasites or viruses a dog can carry, and there is a real threat to human and animal health. These hazards are spread through flies, pets, people (especially children), and water.
- Water contamination can be a huge problem. Runoff goes into storm drains and nearby waterways, all of which accumulate in lakes, rivers and streams. Decaying waste uses up oxygen, threatening fish and other aquatic life; it contains nutrients that feed algae and weeds, making water cloudy and unpleasant; and all of those bacteria, viruses and parasites can make the water unsafe for recreation. In fact, 3 days of waste from 100 dogs would temporarily shut down 20 miles of a watershed for swimming and shellfishing!
- It’s just gross. In many communities, owners not cleaning up after their dogs is the number one dog-related complaint – and when some owners don’t do it, it makes everyone look bad. No one likes seeing, smelling, or stepping in it, and picking up after our dogs is just part of responsible ownership.
The great news is, there are all kinds of ways to take care of business these days!
Plastic bags: The old inside-out-bag-over-the-hand trick is quick and easy. Tie it off and throw it in the trash, or take it home and flush it. Flushing is the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended method of disposal but not all areas allow it, so check your local bylaws.
Flushable bags: If you can flush pet waste in your area, you might love this idea – pick up as usual, but save yourself the trouble of emptying the bag into the toilet – just tie and flush.
Scoops and shovels: If you are grossed out by picking it up, or unable to bend, you can use a shovel or a specially-designed poop-scooper. This can be inconvenient on walks, so if this is your method of choice, you may want to train your dog to go in a designated place on your property, and save the walk for after.
Digester: A digester is basically a small septic system for dog waste. You bury it in your backyard and drop your dog’s waste in a hatch at the top. Then add water and the specially-designed tablets made of enzymes, bacteria, and environmentally safe activators, and the waste will break down in a safe and natural way before draining from the unit.
Yard clean-up services: Picking up waste is a booming business – there are services that will come to your home on a predetermined schedule and clean up your yard so you don’t have to! Some even offer a spring clean-up so if you’ve left the job buried in the snow, you don’t have to don your rubber boots in the spring.
While we will always have to deal with our dogs’ waste, it’s a small price to pay for all of the joy they bring us – and with all of these options available, cleaning up is easier than ever.