Doggy Doo's and Don'ts

Have you ever noticed how dog walks are like social networks? Except they suss through the morning posts with uncanny olfactory precision before ever deciding on a comment. And while this amazing creation of man and nature manages all the pressing business before breakfast, without a computer or cell phone, they still have a long way to mastering the etiquette of our cat or defeating the urge to repeatedly clean our tires. It’s estimated that dogs cause 20-30% of stream pollution through direct runoff into storm drains, which eventually empty into the natural watercourse. What’s worse, a single gram of dog waste can contain 23 million fecal coliform bacteria while a child only has to come into contact with a single coliform to become seriously ill. Here are the top 5 reasons to scoop and tips towards improving sustainability.
  1. To protect the water supply
    Scooping is the most effective way to reduce impact on the water system. It can never be eliminated completely, so shoot for sandy or gravel surfaces which make pick-ups easier and facilitate natural erosion. Most dollar stores sell black scented plastic bags that work great at reducing exposure and nuisance. Keep away from storm drains or other public water works and steer towards overgrown areas rich in vegetation for urination. The high nitrogen and phosphate content can burn grass and plants but are disposed of readily by weed beds our other dense growth.

  2. To protect children from disease
    Pregnant women or children coming into contact with dog feces can become seriously ill, or worse. Safety dictates staying clear of neighbors yards with children, schools, public playgrounds, or anywhere children might play. Encourage children to wash after playing, especially where dogs may be present, and keep dog waste and tools childproof.

  3. To monitor your dog’s health
    Monitoring a dog's stool for changes is not that much different than for humans. Frequency, duration, and all the other fine points can help you gauge if your K-9 needs special attention or it’s just the left-over burrito wrapper absconded from the compost bin. Walk before feeding to reduce bloat and provide your dog the mental satisfaction of working for their food. After walking and feeding they’ll want to sleep for a few hours which helps reduce the anxiety of everyone leaving for the day. Repeat when you get home in the evening and before long the process will run like clockwork.

  4. To respect your community
    Each week local authorities in Britain receive over 5,000 calls concerning dog fouling, and while more is being done to provide sanitary compost bins in public places, it remains the civil duty of owners to uphold the health and safety of the public. Dispose of waste in properly marked containers, compost or bury waste rather than trash it at the curb where it ends up in landfills as a biological pollutant. The simple gesture of picking up and avoiding zones where children play will earn you respect with your neighbors, help reduce environmental impacts, and improve your community’s sustainability.

  5. It’s the law
    In large cities around the world, fines for not picking up range from $100 in New York to $600 in Paris and $750 in London, often times with “zero tolerance” for owners caught in the act. Authorized employees of New York City’s Departments of Health, Sanitation, or Parks and Recreation can act in accordance with Section 161.03 of the New York City Health Code:

    "A person who owns, possesses or controls a dog, cat or other animal shall not permit the animal to commit a nuisance on a sidewalk of any public place, on a floor, wall, stairway or roof of any public or private premises used in common by the public, or on a fence, wall or stairway of a building abutting on a public place."
If you have a tip for greening up your dog walk or another sustainable story you would like to share, please feel free to send me your feedback. All of your comments and questions are welcome.

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