Besides the fact that it’s just plain gross to step in dog poop, there are important tips about dog poop that will help keep our community’s waterways clean and healthy.
Like human poop, pet poop is raw sewage that contains pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites which can transmit disease to people. Some of these pathogens can last for years in the environment or your backyard. Children who play outside are at the greatest risk for infection. When high levels of fecal-related bacteria are found in a body of water, wading, swimming, and shellfish harvesting are restricted because of the health risk posed to people’s health.
Pet poop contains nutrients, which cause weeds and algae in waterbodies to grow more rapidly and in larger quantities than normal. Excess weeds and algal growth in water changes the balance of the ecosystem. Decaying plant material, from the excess weed and algal growth, uses up oxygen dissolved in water. This can reduce the amount of dissolved oxygen available in creeks and lakes to support fish and other aquatic life.
The secret's out...dog poop can contain disease-causing organisms, including roundworms, Giardia, Salmonella, E.Coli, Cryptosporidium, Toxoplasma, and Parvovirus. Scoop it, Bag it, and Trash it to keep your family safe and protect water quality.
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What if I don’t live or walk my dog near the water?
It may be hard to imagine, especially if you don’t live next to a body of water, but your pet’s poop left on the ground affects the water quality of lakes, streams and marine waters in our area. To understand the connection, it’s helpful to understand how stormwater runoff works.
Curbs, storm drains, and ditches on or near your property collect water runoff and direct it to the closest body of water. Typically, stormwater never passes through a sanitary sewer treatment facility. In other words, anything on the ground no matter how far away from the stormwater drainage can eventually end up in a nearby waterway. Think of that oil slick that you see moving along the pavement and into a stormdrain when it rains. While bacteria and pathogens are not as visible, they travel the same way through the storm system to our creeks, lakes, and bays.
What are the solutions?
The best solution to keeping water safe from pet poop pollution is simple: Bag it and put it in the trash.
Bagging and trashing dog poop is the preferred disposal method. Bagging and trashing poop removes the pollution source from contact with people and water. The poop and its pathogens go to a landfill which is designed to safely contain potential pollutants. Bagging the waste also helps protect sanitation workers from harmful bacteria.
At home, scoop it, bag it, and trash it at least weekly, ideally daily, and especially before it rains.
Pathogens you can’t see can be tracked indoors on paws and shoes.
Some pathogens can survive in your yard for weeks or years.
Think your pet has kicked a parasite? Be careful. Your pets can become re-infected with parasites contained in dog poop from your own yard.
On walks, bag it every time and carry it to the trash.
Plan Ahead. Always keep extra bags and a flashlight on your leash.
Watch closely when dogs are off leash. Scoop even in tall brush.
Always bring plenty of bags on walks and bag and trash every poop. Need a bag dispenser and baggies to get you started on the right track? We have you covered. Call (360)778-6302 for more info.
Many people already place their dog waste in the trash because it is convenient. If you are already placing it in the trash, thank you and keep up the good work!
Can I flush pet poop down the toilet?
Maybe. If you are on a municipal sewer system and you can stand the yuck-factor, flushing is an optional method of disposal. For those with septic systems for sewage disposal, flushing pet waste can potentially exceed the design capacity of the septic system. High volumes of hair and ash, not normally found in human waste, can interfere with septic system function and clog drain fields.
In other words, we still highly recommend the trash.
Can I bury or compost pet poop?
Nope. Composting and burying may seem practical, but those actions do not kill pathogens in the poop and can still pollute water. The pathogens and parasites within the pet waste are not properly treated or removed under most compost conditions. Experts strongly advise that pet waste should never be placed in your home compost bin or directly on your landscape.
What’s the deal with biodegradable bags?
While some bags indicate that they are biodegradable, this doesn’t mean they should be left on the side of the trail or thrown into the woods. The bags break down and this does not remove the dog poop and associated pathogens from the environment.
We recommend purchasing dog bags made from recycled plastic or better yet recycle your own plastic produce or newspaper bags from home.
What about other pets?
Picking up poop is not the best part of having a pet, but it’s in the job description. Dogs, cats, goats, chickens, you name it…If your pet poops outside, you’ve got to scoop it up and manage the waste responsibly. Every little bit counts and helps to protect your family, public health and water quality.
What about wildlife?
Wildlife, such as deer, raccoons, and geese, can also contribute to unhealthy levels of fecal-related bacteria pollution if their populations are concentrated. Avoid attracting wildlife to your home or parks. Never feed wildlife. Keep trash and pet food well sealed. Healthy watersheds can handle natural levels of animal waste without damage to water quality.
This project has been funded wholly or in part by the United States Environmental Protection Agency under assistance agreement PC-01J89801 to the Washington State Department of Health. The contents of this document do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Environmental Protection Agency, nor does mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation for use.