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.