In celebration of clean walkways in neighborhoods worldwide, we say “Happy Pooper Scooper Week.” Yep, picking up your pet’s piles is such a stinky matter that the Association of Professional Animal Waste Specialists (aPAWs) initiated the first-ever Pooper Scooper Week in 2002. The “holiday” encourages you to clean up after your dog year-round, not just the first week in April.
The 2019-2020 American Pet Products Association (APPA) National Pet Owners Survey reports over 63.4 million households have a dog. With each dog excreting 274 pounds of waste a year, communities face over 17 billion pounds of poo annually. That’s a lot of crap! If that isn’t enough of a reason to clean up after your pet, we have five more reasons why dog owners should clean up after their dogs.
It’s the Right Thing to Do (and the Law)
A growing number of municipalities have pooper scooper laws that require dog owners to pick up after their pets and properly dispose of the waste when their pet goes #2 on property that is not the owners. So, before you head out without a way to clean up your dog’s doo, check your city or town hall about local ordinances to avoid fines. Remember, it’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it, and that person is you. So be kind and clean up behind … your dog.
Avoid Spreading Disease and Contamination
Bad dad jokes and terrible puns aside, dog feces may contain microorganisms such as E. coli, salmonella, Campylobacter, and Yersinia, which can be harmful to humans. In addition, the National Institutes of Health reports that dog waste can spread Giardia, Cryptosporidium, and roundworms, all of which pose a threat to public health.
Poo-lution is also a concern. Animal waste can contain pathogens and high levels of nutrients, nitrogen, and phosphorus that support algae and marine plant life growth. However, too much of these nutrients can harm water quality, kill aquatic life, and pose health issues to humans who drink or come in contact with contaminated water, fish, or shellfish. Rain and melting snow carry off dog feces left on sidewalks and grass into streets and storm drains that lead to our waterways.
Dog Poop is Messy and Stinks
Let’s face it, one pet peeve most people, including dog owners, have is finding a schmear of dung on their soles. Not only is dog waste messy and a pain to clean off the bottom of your shoes, but the smell can linger for quite some time. A quick cleanup after your dog “goes” can eliminate mess and stink for yourself and others.
Dog Poop Attracts Bugs, Pests and Other Dogs
In addition to being a danger to public health, thanks to the parasites and bacteria in dog waste, fresh and aged piles attract bugs and pests. Flies lay eggs in the feces and once hatched, the larvae will feed on the fecal matter. Rodents are often rumored to favor dog poop; however, it doesn’t seem that rats favor the flavor. With that said, If rats check out a leftover pile it may be due to undigested food bits left in the waste that they find tempting.
… We probably should have warned you not to read this if you’ve got a weak stomach or are trying to enjoy some light reading over a meal …
Other dogs may find a fellow canine’s leftovers appealing. We know, GROSS, but prepare yourself, because coprophagia is quite common. The dog-eating-poop habit could pose health problems (from parasites and bacteria that can be in the feces). If your pet suffers from coprophagia, consult with your vet about possible causes and treatments.
No, It’s Not Good for the Soil
You may have heard that pet waste benefits your lawn and garden. The truth is dog feces is toxic to grass. You may say, “cow manure is used all the time as fertilizer; what’s the difference between cow and dog waste?” Cow manure contains mostly grass due to a cow’s diet. A dog’s intestinal microbiome and natural digestive processes make their poop acidic, which destroys grass, as noted by all the brown spots in your yard. Because of this acidity, experts do not recommend composting (in the traditional manner) or using dog waste in your garden.
Tools for Picking Up Dog Poop
When it comes to tools to help you clean up after your dog, there’s no shortage of scoopers, grabbers and bags specializing in pet poo. Heck, there are even companies that’ll come to your yard and pick up your dog’s waste on a regular schedule.
Depending on your dog’s size, a pooper scooper may be an excellent choice for you. Styles include rake-and-bin (similar to a broom and a dustpan) and spring-loaded rake and jaw scoops. These are best for firm poos from dogs of all sizes. Gloves and disposable, biodegradable bags make cleaning up after your pet easy without getting any mess on your hands.
Interested in composting your dog’s waste? Don’t expect just to toss it in your existing food and yard scraps. Because of known pathogens in dog waste, treatment requires you to understand testing and temperatures to ensure a safe reduction in pathogens. If you still want to “compost” your dog’s waste, consider an in-ground miniature septic tank designed especially for dog poop. The Doggie Dooley is a pet waste disposal system that uses enzyme cultures to control odors and reduce dog waste to a liquid that the ground can safely absorb.