Pet waste can carry harmful bacteria, parasites, or viruses. It can make people, especially children, very sick. It can also be dangerous to wildlife and other dogs. Rodents are very attracted to pet waste left in your yard. That is why it is important to pick up after your pet. When you leave pet waste on the ground, rain and snow melt runoff carry it to nearby storm drains where it reaches our lakes, rivers, and streams, often untreated. Once there, it can elevate bacteria levels and contaminate our waterbodies, causing our beaches to close. Decaying pet waste also consumes oxygen and may release ammonia. Low oxygen levels and high ammonia can damage the health of fish and other aquatic life. Similarly, nutrients in pet waste may increase algae and weed growth in our water, which consume oxygen as they decompose, further harming aquatic life.
What Can I Do?
- Carry plastic bags with you when you take your pet for a walk. Tie several to your pet's leash so they are handy when needed.
- Pick up your pet's waste with a plastic bag, disposable gloves, or a scoop. Seal the waste in one or two plastic bags and place in the trash. You want to make sure it won't leak.
When your pet goes on the lawn, remember your pet doesn't just go on the lawn. Do your doodie and pick up pet waste!
But Isn't It Good For My Lawn?
Cow manure can be a good fertilizer because cows are vegetarian. Generally, waste that contains decomposed plant material from animals that eat a plant-based diet can benefit your lawn or garden. Dogs have a higher protein (meat) based diet and their waste can be highly acidic and actually damage your lawn. More importantly, there is a high risk of harmful microbes being present in pet waste. Even if pet waste is composted, there is a risk that certain pathogens are not broken down.
Clean water is important to everyone and it's up to all of us to make it happen. You may think that pet waste is not significant, but consider this:
- Surveys have indicated that approximately 35%-50% of pet owners do not pick up after their dogs.
- The average daily amount of waste per dog is about half a pound.
- One large municipality in Erie County has 8,232 dogs registered. That means that if 35% of pet owners do not pick after their pets, approximately 1,440 pounds of dog waste per day or 262 tons per year have the potential to reach our waterways from that one municipality alone!
This adds up to a big pollution problem, but each of us can do small things to help clean up our water and that adds up to a pollution solution!
Find out how YOU can prevent stormwater pollution, even if you don't have a dog.