We all know that we should be picking up after our pets, yet research has shown that only 60% of pet owners actually do so. Obviously, pet waste is smelly, unsightly, and no one wants to ruin their shoes by stepping in it, but leaving pet waste behind can also lead to serious environmental and health concerns.
Rainwater washes unfiltered pet waste into storm drains and creeks, from which it is directly deposited into local rivers and lakes, that ultimately drain into oceans.As it decomposes, pet waste uses up large amounts of oxygen in the water, which deprives marine life of oxygen needed for their survival. In many cases, this lack of oxygen can prove fatal. In addition, when pet waste is broken down, its by-products encourage weed and algae growth, which also can be detrimental to aquatic species.
One gram of dog waste can contain up to 23 million fecal coliform bacteria, which can be harmful to human health if not disposed of appropriately. Improper disposal of pet waste can cause many common diseases such as Campylobacteriosis, Crytosporidium, Toxicariasis, Toxoplasmosis, and Salmonellosis. In addition, dog waste can contain parasites such as hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, tapeworms, and giardiasis. Dog waste is also a major food source for rats.
The best way to deal with pet waste is to collect it and flush it down your toilet so that it undergoes the same sanitary treatment as human waste from your home. The next best option is to collect the waste and dispose of it in biodegradable bags along with your other garbage. If no biodegradable bags are available, collect it in a plastic bag and dispose of it in the same manner.
Pet waste should not be dumped into storm sewers, as that only hastens its trip to the waterways and oceans without receiving any sanitary treatment. It takes chemicals or extreme heat to kill the bacteria and parasites found in dog waste. Therefore, it should never be used in compost piles or for fertilizer on gardens.
Please heed this advice. You will leave everyone a safer and more beautiful community by just following these few easy steps.