I’m a sucker for practically any dog. I just love these four legged creatures. And being the owner of three dogs, I know the responsibility that goes along with ownership. Consequently, when I see owners (including my neighbors) allowing their dogs to poop wherever they choose, I’m amazed at the rudeness of these folks. After all, how about some basic manners?
It has only been in the last couple of years that I’ve become aware that not picking up after our dogs is actually bad for the environment. It’s a well known practice and benefit for gardeners and farmers to use animal manure to enrich soil. Because of this practice, perhaps it’s intuitive to think that dog waste is actually good for the environment. So, let’s set the record straight now!First, dog waste contains the same bacteria as human waste. We have toilets and sewage systems to protect drinking water and the environment. When we don’t pick up after our dogs, we’re leaving sewage on our lawns, sidewalks, beaches and places where we walk . As importantly, dog poop left on the ground runs off into streams and rivers effecting the quality of water.
Here’s the killer. It’s estimated that dog waste causes between 20-30% of stream pollution.
Another problem: when left on the ground, dog waste adds an excessive amount of nitrogen fertilizer to the soil which increases the spread of nitrogen loving weeds, often at the expense of native plants.
There are also plenty of diseases in dog waste: tapeworm, ecoli, roundworm plus a slew of others. These are all diseases that humans contract. FYI, if a child touches an object that has been in contact with feces and then puts her hand to her mouth, she can contract the disease that is in the feces. If all of us would take the time to think of children playing in a park or just on neighborhood lawns, and how our negligence and lack of consciousness is unintentionally harming them, perhaps that would motivate alot of us to change our behaviors.
In the past couple of years since I’ve tried to do away with plastic grocery bags, I’ve found another way of disposing of dog waste, thanks to a product that I discovered at my pet store. It’s scented, recyclable bags. They’re easy to use and not terribly expensive. Using them to pick up after your dog will make you feel good because you’re being a respectful neighbor and citizen, you’re taking action to help sustain the environment, you’re not harming children and polluting rivers and streams and you’re helping to minimize weeds that are harmful to native plants.
This is a simple, thoughtful action that can make a significant difference in the world!! How to educate the public? I don’t know. Even though certain cities and municipalities have laws against not picking up after dogs, I’m not sure how often these laws are actually enforced. Any suggestions?