I am a pretty environmentally conscious person. I recycle, drink out of reusable water bottles, and take my own bags when I go grocery shopping. But one thing I never really thought about is, do I dispose of dog poop in the most environmentally sound way?
Before we tackle the problem of poop disposal, I think it is is important to address the reason for removing your dog’s waste in the first place. In my post, Responsible Dog Ownership Day, we discussed the importance of picking up after your dog, simply because it is part of taking responsibility for your pet. But there are other reasons it is necessary that you remove your dog’s waste from your yard and from the places where you walk your dog. Here’s why…
Disease control: Dog waste can contain giardia, roundworms, salmonella, and Ecoli. If this isn’t enough to make you want to get the poop out of your yard, consider that dogs can spread or contract parvovirus, a highly contagious viral disease, through infected feces.
Yard maintenance: Nobody wants to go running through your yard and accidentally step in dog poop. Our backyard is one of our favorite places to play a pick-up soccer game, and I shudder to think what would happen if someone fell in a pile of poop. Maintaining the yard by regularly picking up waste helps preserve your usable space.
Fly control: I always know summer is in the air when I spot my first fly. We’ve always had a dog, and have struggled to keep the flies out of the house. But, picking up the dog poop in the yard really seems to help keep the fly population down.
Prevent stool eating: Although we’d all like to think our dog has never done it, and never will, the reality is that dogs are animals, with animal instincts that may drive them to be interested in some pretty stinky stuff. If you pick up regularly, you can avoid the risk of your dog eating poop.
So, now that you know the importance of getting rid of all that dog waste, what’s the best way to remove it and honor the environment in the process? Well, I can tell you what NOT to do, and then we can discuss the safest way to remove dog poop.
DO NOT flush dog poop down the toilet. According to Robert Horowitz, supervising environmental scientist at the California Department of Resources and Recovery, doing so can spread cryptosporidium, a parasite found in animal waste. Crypto is not removed at the sewage treatment plant and can enter waterways, causing diarrhea in humans.
DO NOT compost dog poop. Similar to the problem with flushing, the pathogens that can be found in pet waste are dangerous to humans, and composting the waste doesn’t achieve high enough temperatures to kill the pathogens.
What should you do? Scoop the poop and use a biodegradable bag to dispose of the waste, then toss into your garbage can. “My opinion is that pet waste should go to the landfill,” says Horowitz. Just make sure you purchase the bags from a reputable source who can back up the testing they’ve done to place the label BIODEGRADABLE on their product.
The basic scoop on dog poop is to pick it up immediately if possible, but at the very least often, in order to prevent the spread of disease and nuisances like flies. Use a biodegradable bag, and toss it in the trash on garbage collection day. The environment (and your fellow humans) will thank you.