Not a Part of the EcoSystem
According to the US Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook (2012), there are approximately 70 million pet dogs in the US and 74.1 million pet cats. That’s a lot of pets, and a lot of pet waste. And when you consider that a single gram of dog feces can contain 23 million fecal coliform bacteria, you can see this is potentially a huge health issue.
High animal populations yield lots of waste for the ecosystem to decompose. In urban settings, the natural system has been dramatically altered by increased runoff due to surfaces that do not allow water to infiltrate the soil. Surfaces such as rooftops, asphalt and concrete roads, sidewalks and parking lots.
Every time it rains, thousands of pounds of pet waste wash down storm drains and into streams, rivers and lakes. If not disposed of properly, pet waste flows directly into nearby streams and creeks without being treated at waste water treatment facilities. This can make water unsafe for drinking, fishing, swimming, and other types of recreation. Pet waste also has nutrients that promote excessive algae growth in lakes and streams. When the algae dies and decomposes, it robs the water of dissolved oxygen that fish and other aquatic life needs to survive!
Adults working in their gardens, children playing outside and family pets are the most at risk for infection from some of the bacteria and parasites found in dog waste.
So what can you do as a responsible pet-owner?
- Pick up pet waste from your yard. It is not a fertilizer. If you don’t want to do it yourself, contact a company that deals with animal waste removal. The feces will be disposed off in compliance with your local waste disposal laws.
- Carry disposable bags while walking your dog to pick up and dispose of waste properly. When you dispose of pet waste in the trash, wrap it carefully to avoid spilling during collection.
- Bury pet waste in your yard, at least 12 inches deep and cover with at least eight inches of soil to let it decompose slowly.
- Bury the waste in several different locations and keep it away from vegetable gardens. DO NOT compost cat litter or dog poop.
- Flush the dog poop down the toilet but be sure to remove any sticks or stones first.
- Install an inground septic system. Place the collected feces into the receptacle and a special packet of enzymes begins the process. Water is absorbed leaving behind odorless byproducts.
- Contact your local parks department to inquire about providing pet waste stations in area parks, along trails and in public places where people frequently walk their dogs.