PREVENT WATER POLLUTION: CLEAN-UP AFTER YOUR DOG
Water pollution threatens every living thing on earth today, and one key contributor is dog waste. Unscooped dog droppings lead to unnaturally high levels of fecal coliform bacteria in lakes, streams and oceans, choking out aquatic life and threatening the survival of many aquatic species. By simply cleaning up after your dog each day, you can help prevent water pollution and protect fragile aquatic life.
Water pollution comes from many sources, including motor oil and pesticides as well as fecal waste. Because of it, 40 percent of America's lakes and streams are too polluted to use for fishing or swimming.
Genetic studies of the water pollution from fecal waste in this country have found that roughly 20 percent of it comes from dogs. This water pollution promotes the growth of aquatic weeds and algae, which then limit light penetration and reduce oxygen levels — eventually, it creates a deadly environment for fish and other aquatic life, and widespread fish kills can be one result.
Pollution from dog waste also poses a health hazard to human beings and other pets, whether it's in water or on land. Bacteria and parasites contained in the waste can infect adults and children with Campylobacteriosis, Salmonellosis and Toxocariasis, for example. And because of those threats, dog waste is not a suitable fertilizer, contrary to popular belief.
On land, dog waste also has a very high nitrogen content, which can be harmful to native plants and grasses.
So next time you take Fido outside, make sure you clean-up after him too. It's such a simple and courteous thing to do, and such an easy way to make a difference for people, pets and aquatic life.
Clean up after your dog: Preventing water pollution can be as easy as remembering to take along a plastic bag or pooper scooper when you walk your dog. Scoopers are available in most pet stores. Many towns supply dog-waste bags in public areas, or you can order them online. Plastic grocery bags work too!
Hire someone to scoop for you! Believe it or not, a number of scooping service providers have sprung up to address this increasing need. Find an international directory of them at Pooper-Scooper.com.
Dispose of it properly: Once you've done — or paid someone else to do — the dirty work, you can dispose of the waste in a variety of ways:
- Put it in the trash, still wrapped in its bag (check first with town officials to make sure this is permitted in your community)
- Flush it down the toilet (without the bag)
- Bury it in your yard, at least five inches deep and located away from food gardens, kids' play areas, waterways, wetlands, wells or ditches
- Install an in-ground pet waste digester, which is much like a small septic tank, and dispose of it there. Digesters are generally available in pet stores and in pet supply catalogs for between $50 and $75.
Note that pet waste should never be added to a compost pile, because heat levels won't be high enough to kill the harmful pathogens it contains.
Look around: If dog waste stations aren't already installed in your community, talk to your local parks department to inquire about providing them in parks, along trails and in public places where people often walk their dogs.