Let’s talk dirty

By Tracie Korol

In 2010, the problem of dog excrement was one of America’s biggest gripes, according to a survey by Consumer Reports. Despite posted signs, HOA regulations and looks of disapproval from passersby, some dog owners just don’t clean up after their pets.  Really, people, this is a key part of the “I want a dog” deal.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, pet waste has been identified as a major cause of “non-point source pollution” (NPS). In just one example cited by the EPA, “for watersheds of up to 20 square miles draining to small coastal bays, two to three days of droppings from a population of about 100 dogs … contribute enough bacteria and nutrients to temporarily close a bay to swimming and shellfishing.” Given that we ARE that watershed, this is a fact to consider.

According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA), there are 74.8 million dogs in the U.S. As the dog count rises, more dog owners are looking for a simple solution to an unavoidable problem: the average dog leaves approximately 23 piles of poop a week. This amount of waste can seriously damage our ecosystem if not disposed of in a mindful fashion.

Canine waste also contains lots of nasty bacteria with almost unpronounceable names: fecal streptococcus and fecal coliforms are just two examples. In sufficiently high amounts, these bacteria can make people very sick. For example, E. coli bacteria often causes gastrointestinal infections, as well as infections to the ear, eye, and throat. Another bacteria, campylobacter, can cause diarrhea in humans. Still another form of poop-loving bacteria, salmonella, can cause infections that trigger fever, muscle aches, headache, vomiting, and diarrhea.

What can you do? From the no-brainer category, what you do is carry a bag, pick up the deposit and dispose of it properly like a considerate human being. The quickest, easiest way to get rid of a dog’s poop is to put it in a plastic bag and either drop the bag in a trash can or flush the bag’s contents down a toilet.

You do not have to purchase fancy designer bags that attach to your leash. Simply re-use and recycle the hundreds of bags that come into your household every month: the newspaper bags, the free produce bags from the grocery store, the plastic bag from the frozen vegetables, the liner bag from the cereal box, the empty Dorito bag, magazine wrappers, or anything else you can get your hand into, turn and fold over.  Keep a box of all these various sacks near wherever you keep your leash.

After you have a large enough bag, it’s easy to gather up the poop. For the uninitiated, here’s how:

1. Pull the plastic bag over one hand like a glove. If you’re cleaning up while walking your dog, loop the leash around your wrist and pull the bag over the leashed hand.

2. Pick up the poop with your bagged hand.

3. With your other hand, grasp the open end of the bag and pull the bag inside out. The poop will now be inside the bag, all tidy and hygienic.

4. Knot the bag and drop it into the nearest trash can.  Alternatively, take the bag inside and flush the contents down the toilet. Throw the plastic bag in the trash.

Of course, if there’s no trash can nearby, you’ll need to carry the bagged poop until you find a suitable receptacle. But take heart. Soon, not even the thought of having to tote a turd around town will gross you out. It’ll just be another fact of life.

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