I know. Poop is gross. It’s a stinky situation. But with approximately 78.2 million owned dogs in the United States, it’s a serious situation. Pet waste is a major contributor to pollution in our waterways.
How does dog poop get to our waterways?
As stormwater flows off your property – or off of public right-of-way, parks, etc. – if flows into storm drains or ditches and directly to waterways. But along its trip, it picks up a few things – like, for example, bacteria, viruses and parasites from dog waste.
What does dog poop do to our waterways?
We hear it all the time – a section of the beach closed off due to high bacteria levels. Guess where a lot of the bacteria come from? Yup. Pet waste. Pet waste contributes to poor health standards of our local waterways. It can also cause algae blooms which remove oxygen from the water and choke aquatic life. If we continue to fail to pick up after our dogs our waterways will continue to fail to meet heath standards.
How else is dog poop harmful?
Pet waste doesn’t just affect our beach trips. It also turns out yard into a cesspool! Remember all those bacteria, viruses and parasites? When you don’t pick up after your dog, they just fester in the lawn. And some of those bacteria can cause real problems in humans, such as fever, diarrhea, vomiting, headaches and more. It is not safe for you, your kids or your neighbors when you leave dog waste on the ground.
How can we fix this problem?
Unlike many environmental issues, this particular issue has a very simple solution. Just scoop the poop! When you walk your dog, carry a few plastic bags with you – newspaper bags work great or get yourself a handy dandy poop bag carrier from your city or county’s stormwater division. Once nature calls, scoop it, bag it and trash it! (Which brings up the debate of poop bag disposal etiquette but I’ll let you decide on that one!)
It’s a serious problem with a simple solution – just Scoop the Poop!
Article written by Elizabeth Vaughn, Public Works Information Specialist, City of Chesapeake, Public Works