In May 2011, my hooman Mom wrote a Letter to the Editor of our local town newspaper. In it she called on all the pet parents, walking their dogs at our local park/recreation center to be more mindful about picking up after their dogs once they “do their business, go poopie doop, go potty” or whatever other little code phrases hoomans use when we leave a special present on the ground. She was pretty ticked off, and worried she would lose the right to use that “people park” to walk me in & around. The letter was published, in it’s entirety, even including quoting County of Los Angeles statutes governing this issue.
Taking a closer look, it appears that this is a larger issue, with serious impact on water, environment, certain eco-systems, health concerns both animal & human, than it appears at first glance. In doing the research for this article, I’ve come across various states that have enacted local legislation. I have pawed through numerous articles & impact studies from sources as diverse as:
- USA Today’s Dog Waste Poses Threat To Water,
- Pima County Dept. of Environmental Quality (Tucson, AZ),
- North Carolina Clean Water Education Partnership’s Ewww, Dog Doo!,
- Stormwater Manager’s Resource Center’s Pollution Prevention Fact Sheet,
- Pet Waste and Virginia Water Quality, and
- KTVU.com’s Apartment Complex Plans To DNA Test Pet Poop.
The History of Poop
Dogs have been a domesticated animal of human beings for thousands of years.
Fossil dogs show up in the record alongside human civilization all over Europe, Asia and the Middle East about 9,000 years ago. The evidence suggests that human had been in association with dogs for a long time, and that the fossil evidence was really waiting for civilization to help preserve them, theorizes Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, the author of The Dog Who Couldn’t Stop Loving.
Pet owners on the other side pose the following: If the management and disposal of dog waste is such a problem, what has been done to address this “threat”? Where has this waste been going all this time? Where is the build-up of bacteria, the polluted water resources?
Leading Southern California Veterinarian & Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist Patrick Mahaney, DVM, CVA was kind enough to respond with some answers to these questions:
“Before dogs were domesticated, humans did not live in close quarters with other humans and pets. As a result of urban development and the process of companion animal domestication, humans now have to deal with the public health implications around fecal and other contamination of our available resources. Additionally, pre-companion animal domestication, regulatory boards had not been established to evaluate local water, soil, food, and other material. If testing was not being performed, then no results delieneating the origins of contamination can be established.
“Perhaps, all this bacteria and pollution left behind from canine fecal matter left for thousands of years since man domesticated the canine is currently affecting our environment and, potentially, human and animal health.
“All waste, both man and animal made, contributes to a global health crisis. We humans should strive to reduce the amount of waste we generate and prevent that produced by our pets from entering our larger scale natural resources (water, soil, food, etc.)”
The business of poop has turned commercial. And if you don’t believe that as fact, just get a load of the number & variety of products out there for sale to the pet owner/consumer. The following is a short list of eight items you may wish to consider on your next shopping trip.
- Select-A-Scoop Pooper Scooper ($22.09) – 4 in 1 rake & pan w/optional bag attachment
- Poop Freeze Waste Pick-Up ($12.95) – freeze spray aerosol made for animal waste pick-up
- Powerloo Pet Products ( $997.00) – High performance pet waste removal system disposes of waste in 10 seconds or less, environmentally safe and EPA recommended
- Yard Sign/ No Poop Please ($8.99) – a fun way to remind others to keep their dog’s poop off your lawn
- Doogie Doo Scooper w/Biodegradable Doo Bags ($6.55) -
- Doody Digger ($) – mess free dog waste removal pooper scooper
- The Catch-It Waste Collector ($29.95) – waste collection device designed to make the Pet Walking Experience A More Pleasant One. Environmentally friendly because the waste never touches the ground
- Litter -ROBOT ($349.99) -Automatic, self-cleaning cat litter box
Apartment-dwelling dog owners are banding together and capturing on video other pet owners blatantly allowing their dogs to make “deposits” and then failing to pick up afterwards. These videos are beginning to show up on Hurts To Look, a website highlighting the offenders and their irresponsible behavior.
Businesses are cropping up who, for a fee, will offer their own solution to the problem. Certain property managers have chosen to pay for DNA testing performed on collected fece samples for identification purposes. Subsequent restrictive action is then levied against the owners whose dogs have not been picked up after. Poo Prints (Bio Vet Lab) with the marketing tagline, “What’s Your PooPrint”, is serious about poop. Pet Butler, out of Seattle, WA call themselves “North America’s Pet Waste CleanUp Service”.
What Does The Public Say?
Here are the results of a non-scientific survey of individual dog owners, conducted August 2011, at a 3-day social media & networking conference for pet bloggers and all pet lovers.
Draw your own conclusions folks. I’m just a dog, but it seems to me that if us dogs & cats do our job, i.e. to poop where you want us to, then it’s your job to pick it up and get rid of it, responsibly. That seems fair.
In the end, this is a grassroots issue like all good ideas that may have reached their moment. It is ultimately the responsibility of the pet owner to manage their dog or cat’s “fecal footprint.” I have submitted the slogan “We Stoop For Poop,” as the title for an upcoming PSA. No one is asking anybody to march on Washington, pay for a hired lobbyist or even to donate money. What you are being asked is to take the time to bend down and pick up after your own pet, consistently, every time.