As owners and operators of a doggie daycare in Kirkland, we have seen the bump in new puppies and dogs arriving in households over the holiday season. And, with the holidays behind us and a new year underway, it seems a great time to discuss the age-old issue of scooping dog poop.
Some of us are old enough to remember the days when our dogs could roam our towns freely, when nobody had thought of leash laws and when no one had ever heard of a poopy bag. So, it may be hard to come to grips with the reality that dog poop really does pose a health threat to our families and our local natural resources.
In the 60’s and 70’s, the study of pollution was focused on the much more obvious pollutants in our country, but recent exploration of contaminates in Puget Sound has shown that dog waste is a primary source of E. coli, salmonella and giardia in our area. It also adds nitrogen and phosphorus to the water, encouraging much more rapid growth of pesky algae and aquatic weeds, ultimately impacting salmon spawning grounds. We all know E. coli and salmonella are major threats to humans, with outbreaks being publicized regularly.
There are over 1.1 million dogs living in the Puget Sound region, dropping roughly 200 tons (yes, tons) of dog poop each day, amounting to roughly 73,000 tons per year!! Lest you think these numbers are inflated, they translate to only a little over 1/3 lb. per day per dog.
As we are all working to achieve a “greener” existence, remember that dog poop is not yard waste, it is not appropriate for composting or using as fertilizer, because rain will send it towards our waterways. The greenest way to dispose of dog waste is to bag it and place it in the garbage. Our landfills ensure that garbage is not washed away by rainfall.
There are simple ways we can address removal of poop. Simply carry a small pocket full of poop bags, attach some to your leash in some of the many stylish poop bag carriers widely available. If you are concerned about the “ick” factor, consider pre-scented bags and holding your breath for the few seconds that you are close to the droppings.
Finally, don’t think your back yard is your own space and who cares … rain will wash contaminates from your yard to our waterways just as readily as it will from our city parks, sidewalks and other public spaces. Fortunately, there are services you can hire who will come to your home and handle it for you, if you lack the time or inclination to do the scooping yourself.
We have learned a lot about our environment over the years, including just how damaging pet waste can be, so let’s all be responsible dog owners and handle our dogs’ droppings with an eye toward protecting our environment along with the health of our family, friends and neighbors.