Did you know there are almost 90 million1 dogs in the United States? According to the American Pet Products Association, two-thirds of Americans own at least one pet, with dogs being the most common (48%).
What’s the issue?
Pet waste becomes a source of pathogenic bacteria when it is deposited close to a stream or storm drain and not collected. Runoff from lawns, parks, or common areas where pet waste is not picked up can also be a source of bacteria.
The average dog produces about 0.31 pounds of waste per day and cats produce about 0.15 pounds per day. While much of the cat waste is captured by litter boxes inside homes, an estimated 30 - 40 percent of dog owners do not pick up their pet waste according to several nationwide surveys.
What happens when pet waste reaches our waterways?
Decomposing pet waste uses up oxygen that fish and plants need to survive.
Pet waste encourages algae to grow in streams. Algae can form unsightly blooms and use oxygen that fish need to survive.
Pet waste can contain bacteria, viruses, and parasites that may be transmitted to humans and other animals while in infected waters.
What can I do to help?
Prompt and proper disposal. Whether in your yard or on a walk, promptly dispose of your pet’s waste in the trash or down the toilet where it will be properly treated. When pet waste is left behind, it washes into storm drains and ditches. From there it heads straight to your local lakes and rivers, taking harmful bacteria with it.
Do not use pet waste as a garden fertilizer or in your compost pile.
Watch and enjoy the ducks and geese, but avoid feeding them. Feeding ducks and geese may seem harmless, but, in fact, can be harmful to our water. Feeding waterfowl causes them to become more dependent on humans which, in turn, creates unnaturally high populations and more animal waste. This waste contains bacteria that pollute our parks and lakes.
Spread the word. Tell others how they can help protect our lakes and rivers. Also, work cooperatively with your local government to install signs, bag dispensers, and trash cans in convenient public places to remind visitors to clean up after their pets.
What’s on the ground is in our water
1Chang, Jenny. “Number of Dogs in the US 2022/2023: Statistics, Demographics, and Trends.” Financesonline.com, FinancesOnline.com, 14 Jan. 2022, https://financesonline.com/number-of-dogs-in-the-us/.