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Waste Not, Want Not
What to do about poo?

The fate of dog waste is something that’s never very far from my thoughts, especially as I bend over to collect my dogs’ precious gems about four times a day. I sometimes imagine the towers of plastic-wrapped dog waste piled high in landfills around the country. I recently read a true-crime story that involved the detectives combing by hand through a landfill in search of a body. Am I the only reader who wondered how much dog waste they encountered? So, I make a sort of hobby out of reading stories that provide the latest innovation or challenge on the pet waste front. (Remember when San Franciso was set to turn poop into biofuel? Did that go anywhere?) Two recent pieces caught my eye.

From Canada comes a first-person review of Toronto’s new dog waste pilot program, which diverts dog waste from landfills to be processed at a water treatment plant. For this to work, people must scoop the poop in paper bags with cardboard scoops and deposit them in special bins. Writer Debbie Pacheco was not amused or even satisfied by the hassles of the substandard scooper. I like the ambition of the project, but I get Pacheco’s concerns about convenience. If it’s a hassle, people won’t make the right choice and the solution won’t have a chance.

In Thurston County, Wash., cities and counties are trying to reduce water pollution from dog waste. I was—as always when I read these stories—astonished by the numbers. An estimated 50,000 dogs in the county produce about 12 tons of untreated waste per day! (That’s the equivalent of 12 Volkswagen Beetles.) Plus, a gram of dog waste has twice the fecal coliform of human waste. The goal in Thurston County is a little more basic—get the waste off the ground so it won’t wash into and contaminate rivers and lakes. But that doesn't mean putting it in the toilet. The regional sewer utility recommends against flushing dog poop because canine bacteria and pathogens are more difficult and expensive to process in plants designed for human waste.

Anyone witnessing any brilliant dog waste disposal ideas?

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Lisa Wogan lives in Seattle and is the author of, most recently, Dog Park Wisdom.

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