We love our pets, but no one loves cleaning up after them. Picking up pet waste is an important part of being a responsible pet owner. Pet waste has the potential to degrade the environment from stormwater to the lakes and rivers it drains to if the waste is not properly disposed of. In fact, pet waste has been listed as a non-point source pollutant by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) since 1991!
The Problem: Pets can house several types of bacteria and parasites that are expelled with their waste. These include E. coli, Giardia, and Salmonella. When pet waste is not picked up, these bacteria are transferred into waterbodies with stormwater, posing a public health threat. These bacteria are further mobilized by the flies consuming and laying eggs in pet waste.
- Just one gram of pet waste contains approximately 23 million bacteria.
- Pet waste contributes an estimated 20-30% of the bacteria found in natural water samples.
- Pet waste also contributes to eutrophication by adding excess nitrogen and phosphorus.
- Three days’ worth of dog waste from 100 dogs can cause 20 miles of bay and watershed closings and create bacterial air pollution.
- Some of these bacteria can live in your soil for years!
The Solutions: Picking up after your pet in public areas is very important, as waste left near storm drains or waterways is easily carried into our valuable creeks and rivers during the next storm event. All pet waste washed into Tinker’s Creek will eventually drain into our beautiful Lake Erie! Everyone knows your pet needs plenty of exercise, so keep these tips in mind when you take your furry friend out on the town or trails or even when you’re just hanging out at home!
- Bring extra plastic bags to ensure that you don’t run out on your trip – and maybe even to help out someone who has!
- After picking up the waste and tying the bag off, take it with you.
- Dispose of the waste in the nearest garbage can or flush the waste (not the bag) down the toilet to be treated with the rest of the sewage.
- If choosing to bury your pet’s waste, make sure to bury it at least five inches below the ground and far from any produce or waterways on the property.
- Never include pet waste in your home composting piles as they do not reach the temperatures high enough to destroy the harmful bacteria pathogens present in pet waste.
Pets bring so much joy into our lives. The least we can do is clean up after them. Your pet is your best friend; let’s make it nature’s best friend too!