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Getting (a little) serious about dog poop

Every day in Seattle, where dogs outnumber children, 41,250 pounds of poop exits dogs and lands on the otherwise fair city, according to the Seattle Times.

In a year (who says newspapers don’t cover the important stuff anymore) that adds up to 15.1 million pounds, but it also leads to a lot of confrontations between neighbors, between dog owners and animal-control officers, and between dog owners and passers-by — not to mention steppers-in.

And, actually, it is important stuff.

The non-scoopers among us — and you know who you are — aren’t just contributing to an erosion in the quality of life, but to health problems as well.

When it rains, as it often does in Seattle, dog poop can run into storm drains, and then into lakes and streams and eventually Puget Sound. In Baltimore, it can take a similar route and end up in the Inner Harbor, and other, more frolic-worthy waterways.

Dave Ward, principal watershed steward for Snohomish County in Washington, notes that kids thinking they are playing in a pristine stream could actually be coming into contact with roundworms, E. coli and Giardia.

“Pet waste comes consistently to the top as one of the principal sources of contamination in urban waterways,” Ward said.

The Times story goes on to recount some of the nasty confrontations dog poop has led to in Seattle, where citations ($54 a whack) can be issued not just for failing to scoop poop, but for failure to carry proper poop-scooping equipment.

In 2007, Seattle — home to an estimated 125,000 dogs — issued 65 citations related to dog poop, from failing to scoop in parks to allowing accumulation of feces on one’s property.

(Graphic by Clyde Peterson, official ohmidog! cartoonist)


Comment from Anne-n-Spencer
Time January 20, 2009 at 9:45 am

I was in Paris for eleven days this past summer. It’s just as enchanting and just as wonderful as everyone said it would be–the architecture, the history, the beautiful wide boulevards with their green spaces–and small parks wherever you turn. It’s also a very dog-friendly city. It seems just about everyone is out strolling with their pooch. I didn’t see any strays, but it does seem OK to have your dog off-leash as long as he’s walking alongside you. (People also bicycle with their dogs in the special bike lanes on most thoroughfares).The one problem seems to be that absolutely nobody cleans up after their dog. All those trees, shrubs, and gorgeous flower borders are surrounded by poo! You really, really have to watch where you step, and I think it detracts a bit from all the beauty. It’s such a shame.

As for giardia, if you take a look at any book devoted to hiking and backpacking, you will find that it is present in virtually every stream in North America, no matter how remote or pristine. Other mammals besides dogs also carry it, and the rule of thumb is to assume that all water is contaminated.

Comment from tsg
Time January 20, 2009 at 9:48 am

A few years ago, when I lived in Canton, a young mother with two small dogs moved into the apt. above. I dealt with the thunderous foot falls overhead, the almost constant yapping and crying…mostly because I traveled a lot for my job and worked long hours when in town. What I could not deal with was that she was using the tree box garden I built in front of my first floor apt. as her dogs personal litter box. Be it weariness of being a single mom or laziness as a pet owner…she seemed not concerned.
Neighbors left notes on her door and I would go out with bags and collect said waste to help preserve what little green life was surviving in my little garden. Finally, I got so angry that I collected her pet’s eliminations into a shoe box and left it on her front door step and added a note that she would continue receiving gifts like this until she learned to be a responsible pet owner. It did get better after that but not 100%.
Now I live in S. Baltimore/Fed. Hill. There are several pet owners that live on surrounding blocks that also have the attitude that sidewalks are an appropriate dump site. Last summer, a non-pet owner must have thought we were one of the culprits (which we’re not) and bagged up fresh feces into a Wal-Mart bag and chucked it into our tomato garden… I understood their frustration but was disappointed in the ill-targeted message.