Monday, January 24, 2011

The Straight Poop on Dog Waste

Let’s talk poop, dog poop to be exact.

Anyone who reads this blog knows I love dogs, especially English Bulldogs. I was surprised with DOGIPOT pet stations appeared in Rockwood Park near where I live; and now I know it isn’t just a gesture by the often entrepreneurial, customer-driven folks at Durham Parks and Recreation.Mugsy at Rest

There are nearly 70,000 pet dogs in Durham County.

Dog waste in North Carolina contributes 20%-30% of the fecal coliform in the state’s water supply.

Just one gram of doggy pooh contains 23 million fecal coliform cells and, in addition to pathogens, pet waste contains nitrogen that fosters algae that soaks up oxygen in water.

On average in this state, nearly half of dog owners DO NOT pick up after their pets. Judging by people I see routinely letting their dogs poop right in someone’s front yard, even in tony neighborhoods, many people don’t have a clue that “picking up” after your pet isn’t just an anal-gesture of politeness or fastidiousness or just for those of us with a lawn ego.

I’m writing about this because I never let my dog Mugsy (shown in this blog in his favorite position) near the strip of grass along the curbs of people’s homes, even though it is public-right away.

To the amusement of neighbors and friends, I’ve always been able to successfully train my bullies to go in the considerable amount of ivy growing in my yard or on mulch. Whether or not I run out of bags during a walk in a park, I always try to take Mugsy up in the high rough or in thick brush to relieve himself.

Now I know that I have still been contributing to the problem, or Mugsy has, because parks are primarily storm run-off areas and waste left even in areas clear of sight and human traffic will probably get into the water supply just as quickly, if not more quickly.

Now Durham’s water is well treated but that doesn’t mean we can just throw anything in there….this is about public health, saving tax dollars and being environmentally responsible.

A thoughtless individual who used to live next door would walk his dog down a private drive by some nearby apartments to let his dog do his “business.” Every time the owner of the duplexes called out to say that this man and his dog were trespassing, his loud retort would have made “Michelle Backmann” proud.

“It’s a free country and my dog can go where it wants.”

Actually it IS a free country…free to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…but it is not free of responsibility and it has never been, nor is it free when it comes to protecting life.

Pick up after your dog. When you see others who don’t know they should, ask them to be considerate and use some of these facts to help them understand that it is in their best interests…in the public’s interest.

Hopefully, elected officials won’t cross the idea of DogiPots off their list just because they’ve been deemed an experiment in a few parks as a trial. They work. Expand them to all parks. Offer them at cost to neighborhood associations and residents. They would fit nicely on the post for mail boxes, every block or so.

However, I believe those of us with pet dogs should pay a fee to offset the costs. Yes, having a pet dog is part of that “pursuit of happiness” thing for many of us. It is our reward, but it comes with a price.

Considering the fact that the 46 million households in this nation that own 78 million pet dogs contribute a major portion of the $48 million spent overall on pets and pet care, we believe its worth every penny.


Barry said...

However, I believe those of us with pet dogs should pay a fee to offset the costs.
Reyn - the majority of Durham's dogs aren't even registered.

I'm hearing rumors that the county is getting better at collecting dog licensing fees, but until that happens, forget about raising fees on those who are willing to participate in the system.

Unknown said...

No rumor. The $10 tax on pets is now collected by the tax office. So if you don't pay up, they could come after you to collect (one way or another). So we are in fact paying something. Add another $17 for use of the dog parks and that's $27/dog. If you own more than one, just double or tripple the fees. Which is cheaper... DogiPot stations with cheap plastic bags or water treatment. If you can't guess, the latter is much more expensive. But then we have bird, squirel, possum, racoon, etc. poop that goes unchecked. So is there really any way to really win?

Melanie Eberhart said...

The problem with leaving the waste lie is that the run-off is NOT treated. The run-off is NOT channeled to the wastewater plant, it goes straight into the streams, which in turn go into the rivers - leading to the disease,and algae-bloom issues Reyn mentioned in his post.
As a State, we have to respond to all these increasing algae blooms, toxic or not,and the fish kills that often accompany them, at tax-payer expense, in a time of shrinking budgets.
We all need to do our part to reduce the impact on our State's drinking water supplies, since most of us are on surface water systems, as the budgets for drinking water treatment are also shrinking.

Anonymous said...

Question 1: When deer, rabbits, and squirrels poop in the forest, is that also a threat to our water supply?

Question 2: Does discarding dog-poop into landfills really make the problem go away? Does flushing it down the toilet end up using less energy to process?

Of all things that are biodegradable, dog poop would seem to be high on the list. If the poop is filtered through a hundred feet of soil before reaching the water supply, wouldn't that lessen the impact? Wouldn't the fecal bacteria have lived out their life expectancy and fed the next group of bacteria down the line? Or do fecal bacteria have super powers?

I would really like to see a "big picture" environmentalist weigh in on this issue.

Anonymous said...

To reply to anon. - studies have been done that look at the DNA sources of fecal coliform contamination in rivers, streams, and lakes. Near cities the finding is that nearly 30% (varies some obviously) of the fecal coliform comes from dogs. As one ounce of dog poop contains 23 million fecal coliform bacteria, it makes sense to clean it up (for your own health if for nothing else). Dog poop does not break down quickly (takes about a year on average) and in Durham's heavy clay soil it does not sink into the ground. All the bacteria, viruses, parasites, and extra nutrients end up in in Jordan Lake and Falls Lake (which are area drinking water sources). As to instead putting waste in the trash, the water that runs off landfills gets treated (just as does water that goes into the sanitary sewer from your toilet). It doesn't take less energy but it does keep the nasty stuff our of our water.

Daniel Bryan said...

This is a good service for dog owners and their dogs. This also helps the environment to be exact. dog boarding cleveland

Kelly Kete said...

I heard that the county is now taxing $10 tax on pets and it is being collected by the tax office. They should forget about raising fees on those who are willing to participate in the system.

dog boarding long island

Unknown said...

There's a company which specializes in dog waste removal Chicago said that proper and systematic disposal of all kinds of waste will really benefit the whole US, if only the government sort out possible solution to this augmenting problem of trash and garbage dumping.

Gary Cruz said...

Teaching and training your dogs on proper ways on where they will poop is really hard to do. It takes passion and dedication for this matter.

Danbs1217 said...

Animal waste ordinance approved last night. Fines for into effect in months! Go dog lovers!