It is that time of year again where most of us long for the arrival of spring and begin planning for outdoor activities. The first time we can see our lawns and grass in the local parks is when we see the unsightly reminder of what we have been neglecting all winter. The little brown blossoms that are our pet’s waste litter the landscape and need proper disposal. The spring time thaw period is a stressful time for stream ecosystems with low oxygen caused by decomposing organic matter and from all the salt applied to the roadways during the winter and this is exacerbated by our pet’s waste.
The Environmental Protection Agency classifies pet waste under the same classification as herbicides and insecticides; oil and grease; sediment from mismanaged construction sites; and road salt. These pollutants are called nonpoint source pollution because they enter our streams from a general area and not specific outlet like a pipe. The EPA and Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District are concerned about these pollutants because of their impacts to local waterways. Pet poop contributes excess nutrients into our streams and the lake. We all know how excess nutrients feed algae and other mat-forming vegetation that degrade recreation like fishing and swimming. The western basin of Lake Erie has seen the most extreme impact of excess nutrients with “Do-not-drink” advisories.
Doggie deuces have an impact a little closer to home such as our yard. The Center for Disease Control states that pet waste can contain a litany of organisms that are spreadable to people. Some of these: Giardia, Tapeworms, Hookworms, Roundworms, Salmonella, and Cryptosporidium. Generally speaking these organisms can give humans gastrointestinal distress even if the pet that did the dropping is completely healthy. Those most in danger of contracting the diseases caused by these organisms are family members that spend time in the yard. For example, contracting hookworm is as easy as walking barefoot across your lawn that contains the larvae that penetrate the skin.
How do we remove the defrosted doggy dung from our lawns and play areas before it degrades our health and all that is downstream? It is completely normal to leave dog poop until the snow can’t hide it any longer. The method that I use year round and highly recommend requires a shovel, a bucket of sand or peat moss, and a bag to contain the waste. Step one is to generously coat the offending pile of poop with sand or peat moss enough to coat the entire surface including the underside. When done gently, this step prevents the inevitable smearing of poop on the shovel and grass alike. Step two is carefully place the coated cake in the bag for disposal in the solid waste bin.
Un-dooing the lawn and flower beds is a beneficial way to begin the spring cleanup and ensure that our streams and family begin a healthy transition to warmer weather. It is the small acts done every day that add up to protecting your health and the health of the environment one pooper scooper at a time.
Click here for an entertaining and catchy video from our friends in the Pacific Northwest titled Dog Doogity!