Pet waste is considered a potential health risk to both people and animals. The average dog dropping contains over three billion fecal coliform bacteria. While not all bacteria are harmful, some can potentially cause illness if people or animals come into contact with contaminated water. Pet waste may also contain parasites such as roundworms and giardia.
When it rains, bacteria from pet waste can wash off of your lawn and make its way into local waterways. Bacteria entering our waterways provide nutrients for aquatic plants and algae, which can lead to excessive growth and algae blooms. Algae, and the water quality problems that occur as they decompose, can kill fish and other aquatic organisms. They can also create toxic lake conditions, limiting human use and enjoyment in recreational areas.
Keep your lawn free of pet waste by picking it up on a regular basis. This will prevent it from washing down the storm drain during the next rain event. It will also keep it from making its way onto the bottom of your shoe! City ordinance requires pet waste to be removed regularly to minimize offensive odors and to prevent the breeding of insects.
The easiest way to pick up pet waste from your yard is to use a trowel or scoop. Pet waste should be sealed in a plastic bag before disposing of it with the regular household trash.
Alternatively, pet waste may be disposed of using a pet waste disposal system (i.e. digester). However, these systems can be somewhat expensive and they must be maintained on a regular basis. It is also important to note that these systems may not be as effective during the winter months, when it is cold outside.
Do not compost pet waste, especially if the compost is to be used in a vegetable garden.
In Your Community
When walking your pet, always bring a bag so you can pick up after them. Plastic bags are generally recommended. However, biodegradable bags may be purchased from local pet supply stores. Picking up after your pet is easy:
- Pull the bag over one hand like a glove.
- Pick up the pet waste with your bagged hand.
- With your other hand, pull the bag down and inside out.
- Tie a knot in the end of the bag to seal the contents inside.
Once you are finished, remember to throw your pet's waste away in a designated pet waste receptacle. (See the Map of Pet Waste Receptacles for help finding a disposal location.) You can also throw it away when you get home or even flush the contents of the bag (but not the bag itself!) down the toilet.