Dogs are very entertaining; they are cute, loving, and loveable. Dog owners get more exercise, are less stressed, and are healthier than non-dog owners. What’s not to love about having a dog?

Ahem, well…there is one little thing….

Nobody looks forward to cleaning up after their pet. It’s a distasteful not a particularly pleasant job, and so it’s not surprising to learn that many some pet owners simply don’t bother. They open the back door and let Fido run down the street to the neighbor’s yard to do his business, or they pause It’s not uncommon to head out for a walk with Fido and “not notice” when he pauses for a moment while the dog relieves himself to deposit a malodorous pile at the curb (or in a neighbor’s yard!), and then to walk on as though it is of no concern. (Who wants to carry a sack of poop on the rest of the walk – right?) the malodorous pile left behind is none of their concern. We’ve probably all done it at one time or another.

The American Pet Products Association estimates that there are 83.3 million dogs owned in the United States. DoodyCalls, a professional pet waste removal company, estimates that dogs deposit 30,000 tons of waste every day in yards, on sidewalks, and in parks all across the country.

All that poop, considered as a whole, has some very negative consequences. Pet waste carries bacteria, viruses, and parasites, many of which can survive and infect you, your children, and other pets for years after the waste has seemingly disappeared. When left in yards, on trails or at the curbside, storm water runoff transports it to rivers and streams,. where its decomposition As poop decomposes, it consumes oxygen, which damages fish and other wildlife. Studies done by the Environment Protection Agency in the Seattle watershed found that nearly 20 per cent of the harmful bacteria found in water samples was attributable to canine waste.

The concentration of pet waste in highly populated areas has spurred cities and states to take action. Ithaca, New York launched an experimental pet waste composting project in 2009. They distributed waste disposal bags free of charge in a selected dog park and collected the waste weekly for composting. They successfully produced pathogen-free compost that is returned to the dog park to fertilize the lawn and other plants.

Boston, San Francisco, and Baltimore are among the many cities that distribute free pet waste disposal bags and collection stations in parks and other pubic areas to encourage the public to pick up after their pet and to assure that the waste is disposed of properly.

There are many ways to see that your dog’s poop doesn’t become part of the problem.

First, pick it up. It isn’t going to magically disappear. A pooper-scooper that you can buy at any pet supply store, can make the job easier. Some pet owners, who are unwilling or for some reason unable to do the job, hire it done. There are many pet waste removal companies to chose from who will come to your home on a regular schedule and pick up the waste. An internet search for pet waste removal services will help you find one near you.

Second, dispose of the dog waste properly. There is a bit of debate about the proper disposal of waste, but tossing it directly into the trash is definitely not the answer. Any waste deposited into trash should be in a sealed bag, plastic or, better yet, biodegradable.

The Environmental Protection Agency recommends composting dog waste or flushing it. There are many commercial products on the market to aid in composting. You can purchase one of these doggie septic stations at your local pet store. Bury it in your yard and turn your dog’s waste into compost that can be used on your lawn or flowers by following the instructions that come with it. Pet compost should not be used on vegetable gardens.

If you choose to flush the waste, first check to see that your town’s wastewater treatment plant is able to handle dog waste. Cat waste, which can transmit pathogens that cannot be neutralized by sewage treatment, so it should never be flushed.

Managing your dog’s waste isn’t the most pleasant part of having a pet, but once you choose a method, it will simply become another routine. So, in the interests of clean water and clean shoes everywhere, pick up after your pet and dispose of the waste properly.

Thanks for reading the Scoop on Poop.