The Hazards of Pet Waste
It is a commonly held belief that pet waste left on the ground will simply enrich the soil as a good fertilizer does. Unfortunately, this could not be farther from the truth. Pet waste does not make good fertilizer and should never be used as fertilizer. In fact, pet waste can be hazardous to your health! Pet waste that is left on the ground is not only a health hazard, but it also damages our environment. This is why having a plan to manage pet waste in your community is so important.
The purpose of this article is to outline the importance of keeping pet waste off of the ground in community common areas. Not only is accumulated dog waste unsightly and smelly, but it also poses serious health and environmental concerns. By educating community residents on the importance of picking up after their pet they will be more inclined to do the right thing and pick up the poop!
Pet Waste is Far From Fertilizer
Dog poop is not fertilizer and it cannot be composted. Unlike herbivores, a dog’s diet is made up of mostly animal products, making their waste improper for compost bins. On top of that, a dog’s intestines can harbor harmful organisms that are passed into the waste. If dog poop with harmful organisms is added to a compost pile and then used on flower beds, or worse in a vegetable garden, it can infect humans and make them very sick! Likewise, you do not want dog waste sitting on the ground where it could wash into vegetable beds. Pet waste should be picked up off the ground and disposed of promptly.
Dog Poop Harbors Harmful Bacteria
Dog poop can make you and your dog sick. Dog waste can carry a variety of harmful bacteria. It has been estimated that a single gram of dog waste can contain 23 million fecal coli form bacteria, which are known to cause cramps, diarrhea, intestinal illness and serious kidney disorders in humans. Dog waste can also carry worms such as round worm, whipworm, hookworms, tapeworms and heart worms. Puppies can be especially vulnerable to dog waste left on the ground because of the potentially deadly Parvo Virus. This virus is highly contagious and can be easily passed to other dogs through infected dog waste. Although most adult dogs have been vaccinated against it, young puppies may not be immunized yet. For this reason they are at the highest risk.
Dog Poop Attracts Rats
Put plainly, rats and other rodents are attracted to dog poop because they like to eat it. In fact, dog poop is said to be the number one food source for rats in developed areas. If your community has a rat problem you may want to investigate whether that problem is being fueled by a pet waste problem. Rat populations thrive, reproducing often wherever there is a readily available food source. Make sure your community is not becoming a rat breeding ground by keeping pet waste off the ground and in a closed container – preferably one with a lid. Our gladiator station is great at keeping vermin out!
Dog poop is toxic to the environment!
Pet waste that is left on the ground does not just disappear. If you have a dog and a back yard you know this all too well! Dog waste will slowly “fade away” over time by becoming part of the soil or washing into the waterways when it rains, but just because you can’t see the poop doesn’t mean it is gone. As the waste disintegrates, it breaks apart into small particles. Those particles of dog poop wash into our creeks and streams, and ultimately into our rivers when it rains. Dog waste is very nutrient-rich. Unfortunately, these particular “nutrient-rich deposits” cause rapid algae growth. Abundant algae blooms block sunlight and deplete oxygen in the water, killing off aquatic organisms, especially fish. Even for those who are not concerned about the environment, there is one more reason to keep pet waste off the ground and out of our waterways - our own personal health. The bacteria in dog feces wash into our creeks, streams and rivers can cause serious illness in humans, including cholera and dysentery.
Dogs are great- but the stuff they leave behind isn’t so great.
For a variety of reasons, it is important to develop and enforce a pet waste management plan in your community. Community members should be educated on an ongoing basis about the hazards of dog poop and the importance of keeping it off the ground, both in their neighborhood and their own back yard. DoodyCalls offers a variety of educational “drop-in articles” for community newsletters on the importance of scooping poop. In the areas where DoodyCalls provides service, we are happy to come to a community meeting to make a brief presentation on ways to keep communities clean. For more information please visit http://www.doodycalls.com/resources_toxic_dog_waste.asp or call us at 1.800.DoodyCalls (366.3922).