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Proper Waste Removal Is No Waste of Time

Why disposing of your pet's poop the right way may save you and your pet's life

There may be nothing less beautiful in the wintertime than a seeping pile of dog poop upon snow-covered earth.

It's unavoidable: having pets also means dealing with their waste, and America's 78.2 million dogs generate 10.7 million tons of it every year.

If you think it's no big deal that you don't do your part to clean — or if you forget your bag and reassure yourself that dog poop left for Mother Nature isn't really doing anyone any harm — think again.

For one thing, it's harmful to our environment. Stormwater carries dog poop remnants right to waterways, creating a mixture that can do several things.

  • Add nitrogen to the water, which depletes its oxygen. Underwater grasses, wildlife and fish suffer.
  • Contain harmful organisms such as giardia, salmonella and E. coli.
  • Inject the soil with roundworms and hookwoms, if the dog has them. These can live in the soil for years before finding a new host. (Just imagine your dogs contracting these things from other dogs' messes; they can contract roundworms from eating their eggs off the ground, hookworms from the ground where other dogs have passed them. Pay it forward.)

Plus, simply seeing poop with no dog or owner nearby causes overall human resentment toward our animals. Then you get posts like this on SeeClickFix.com:

I find it hilarious, as I am always at , and watch the dog owners allow their pets to go right next to the sign that says they need to clean it up and they just walk away. I say just ban pets in these parks.

So how to safely dispose of the stuff?

The Sierra Club's Mr. Green suggests we don't compost dog poop, just in case temperatures don't rise enough to kill salmonella, campylobacter, toxocara and other little guys. It's not worth the risk.

Instead, either grab it with a biodegradable plastic bag and throw it in the trash or collect it en masse and flush it into a municipal sewer system.

Don't forget cat owners have an environmental responsibility too.

Never buy clumping clay litter, and if you use it, don't!

Clay is strip-mined, its silica dust can coat your cat's lungs with carcinogenic sediment, and after grooming, its sodium bentonite clumping agent can swell up to 18 times inside your cat's stomach, making a poisonous clog.

Pinch a couple of pennies elsewhere and switch to an eco-friendly alternative — Feline Pine, Swheat Scoop or World's Best Cat Litter (which I use) — for a healthier pet, a healthier Earth, and a healthier, happier Mentor.

Irma Willow January 30, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Re nature-based cat litter - Feline Pine, Swheat Scoop or World's Best Cat Litter: You don't need to pinch pennies to buy the commercial brands. Pick up a huge bag of small animal bedding @ <$5 at a feed store (also available at some outdoors-branded big box stores). It is made of great-smelling small pine pellets that our cat loves to use. Re cleaning - use an extra large/wide scooper with narrow slots: Remove cat poop. The resulting urinated sawdust clumps a bit and is easy to scoop up with nearby pellets. Sift out the sawdust into a waste bag and return pellets to the litter box. Really an easy routine once you get into it.

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