Can we talk doo-doo? Doggie doo-doo, to be exact.
It might seem like an impolite subject, but proper disposal of dog feces is critical to keeping Puget Sound free of dangerous bacteria that can harm humans, aquatic life and our pets themselves.
Based on Census data and research from the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Washington State University Extension Service estimates that Pierce County is home to more than 193,000 dogs that produce more than 23 million pounds of waste a year! That’s a lot of doo-doo.
When dog feces finds its way into the Sound, so too can harmful bacteria and parasites such as salmonella, campylobacter or giardia cysts which are immediately infectious to people. Even old, dried-out or disintegrated dog waste is dangerous since it is more likely to contain harmful parasite eggs. Hookworms take six to 12 days to become infectious and may survive up to four weeks in the environment. Roundworm eggs must age a week or more in dog stool to become infectious.
People exposed to contaminated waters may become ill, especially if they consume shellfish from those waters. But pets can become sick, too. Puppies are especially vulnerable.
To ensure that you and your dog are doing everything you can to keep Puget Sound safe for people, doggie paddlers and its native aquatic life, please make sure you follow these important tips when dealing with dog waste:
- Do not let your dog poop near water or a storm drain or ditch. If you can’t, be sure you pick up any waste that might find its way to water to prevent pollution.
- Leave no trace. If there is no trashcan, take the bag home. Never leave bags by the side of the trail or toss them into the woods.
- Biodegradable bags are not necessary. Once in the landfill the plastic may never decompose, even if it is biodegradable. That makes these bags unnecessary.
- Bring an extra bag. Offer a bag to someone who forgot theirs or pick up waste left behind by others.