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  • Writer's pictureKara Dyko

5 Reasons to Scoop the Poop

You've probably seen the many different iterations of the same signs: some ask, some tell, and some threaten by using pleasantries, profanity, or puns to get you to pick up your dog’s poop. Whether the signs make you giggle or gasp, the message is clear —Be responsible and scoop the poop! However, the entire reasoning behind the signs might not be so clear.

As a dog owner, I've unfortunately found myself without a bag when my super pooper pup decides to “do his thing” for the third time while on a walk. I've had to get very creative in these situations in order to avoid public ‘poo-shaming’ or have made the decision to forego scooping and hope it doesn’t come back to haunt me in my dreams. Yet, I used to never bat an eye when my dog chose to ‘go’ further off the trail in the wilderness. Picking up your dog’s waste is part of the responsibility of being a dog owner and it's especially important in urban areas. But did you know that it's not just a social responsibility but also an environmental responsibility to pick up Scooby's poop whenever and wherever he chooses to ‘go’?

Unlike wild animals that wander freely and disperse their poop over expansive acreage, dog owners, especially in urban areas, tend to frequent many of the same locales, trails, and dog parks. There are about 89.7 million dogs in the United States. On average, a dog excretes between 0.5 and 0.75 pounds of waste per day. One gram of dog waste contains about 23 million coliform bacteria, nearly twice the amount found in the equivalent amount of human waste. It's estimated that only about 60% of dog owners consistently pick up their pet’s poo – that leaves a heck of a lot of poo and pathogens lying around to get washed into our local waters in the next rainstorm! [1]

Why should you care?

DOG WASTE CAN HARM YOUR HEALTH. Many don’t realize it, but dog waste can contain bacteria, parasites, and pathogens that can directly and indirectly cause people to get sick. Although it may look like the poo in your yard has disappeared over time or washed away, some micro-organisms (such as Roundworms, E. coli, and Giardia) can persist and survive in your yard for up to four years if not picked up! Think of how often you use your backyards and lawns, and imagine what microscopic beasts could be proliferating there if the dog poo is left untouched.

According to estimates by the Environmental Protection Agency, two or three days worth of droppings from a population of about 100 dogs can contribute enough bacteria to temporarily close a bay and all watershed areas within 20 miles to swimming and shell fishing. Ewww!

CONTAMINATED WASTE CAN MAKE DOGS SICK, TOO. When pets become sick, contagions are typically passed through their deposits and into the yard. The longer infected dog waste stays on the ground, the greater a contamination becomes. When this waste is not picked up, pets have a high risk of catching infections over and over again.

RODENTS LOVE PET WASTE. Dog poop can be a common food source for rats and other rodents in developed areas. An unwanted neighbor in any community, the presence of rodents can decrease the property values of all nearby homes and presents a host of additional health concerns to residents themselves.

MOWING OVER DOGGIE DEPOSITS DOES NOT SOLVE THE PROBLEM. Running doggie deposits over with a lawn mower may seem like the perfect doo doo disappearing act, but just because you can’t see the waste anymore doesn’t mean it’s not there.

CHILDREN ARE AT RISK. Children at play don’t often wash their hands and most do not realize the potential hazards of coming into contact with waste that has been left on the ground. The bacteria and parasites found in dog droppings are most commonly passed to humans by touch.

What you can ‘doo’

  • ALWAYS carry poop bags with you whenever you are out and about with your dog. Take more than you think you will need…you never know.

  • PICK IT UP! Every. Single. Time.

  • Tie the bag closed and toss it in the garbage. Dog poop CANNOT go in compost or yard waste bins. I repeat, DO NOT compost dog poop!

  • Pick up poops in your yard every three day (more often is better and definitely before a big rain).

  • Hire a dog poop collection service. Yes, this is real, and they exist in many cities and counties. They do it so you don’t have to.

Dog poop doesn’t magically disappear. It might not be there the next time you walk by, but that's because either a ‘poo fairy’ picked it up for you (i.e., a responsible individual), or it, and all of the bacteria and pathogens, washed into the closest body of water.

So, the next time you head out the door or go for a r-i-d-e make sure you bring along a doodie bag or two.

Scooping da poop won't be fun, it might feel uncomfortable and smell a bit (there's scented doodie bags to help with that), but I promise your effort will make this world a better and healthier place for us all.

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