Dog Waste Management 

Poop happens. So what are you going to do about it?
By Kay Elliott, March 2020
Pick up Dog Poop

Illustration by Brandon Bennett

Do you let the chips fall where they may? If you don’t pick up after your dog, the consequences can be far more serious than merely annoying the neighbors. Dog poop significantly contributes to water pollution. Even if your dog isn’t doing his business where it could roll or be washed into a body of water, the waste can still leach into the groundwater supply. Dog poop also carries bacteria and parasites, which live in the soil long after the waste itself disintegrates. If left where it falls, dog waste can contaminate the soil, making it an unsafe area for children to play.

So what to do with all that dog poop? You know you should pick it up, but then what? All those plastic grocery bags end up in a landfill, preserving poop into the next century. One option is to use biodegradable bags, which claim to break down to allow the waste to decompose. Stock up on your own, and encourage your park officials to supply biodegradable bags at your local dog park.

Another option is to use an in-ground pet waste digester. These work like septic systems, using live organisms to reduce pet waste to a safe, ground-absorbable liquid. Many models come with a foot-operated lever to open the lid, so you don’t have to stoop after you scoop.

If you’re among the estimated 60 percent of dog guardians who do not pick up after their dogs (and we know you’re not!), there are professionals who will do it for you, for a price. The pet waste removal business has really picked up in the past 20 years. There is even an Association of Professional Animal Waste Specialists, whose more than 100 members adhere to a strict code of conduct and invent business names that include every imaginable play on the word “doody” (and then some).

In the future, perhaps every city will implement a plan like that to convert pet waste into energy methane. Until then, we’re left with few desirable options, but it’s still possible to choose the lesser of environmental evils. Pick up the dog poop and dispose of it responsibly. Make it your, um, duty to preserve the planet for future generations of dogs, and dog lovers.

Kay Elliott is a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner and owner of Handful of Hounds. She lives with two rambunctious rescued Rottweilers in Petaluma, Calif.

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