The Scoop On What To Do With Poop

Dog lovers and experts may not agree on much, but there is one thing that is irrefutable, dogs poop. A lot. It may not be the most pleasant subject but it is inescapable and important at the same time because when you ignore it you end up stepping in it. And that is what this piece is about.

I walk my dogs, feed them high quality food, and make sure they’re exercised and entertained nearly every day. I am a stickler about picking up any waste my dogs deposit and throwing it away. I even pick up other dog poo when I see it because, frankly, any poop on the streets or walkways reflects poorly on all of us dog lovers, and the anti-dog sector doesn’t need any more fuel for their diabolical cause.

Recently it dawned on me that my effort to be a responsible dog owner might well be causing harm to the environment. Suddenly I find myself at an ethical impasse. You see, I love my dogs and I am also quite fond of our planet Earth.

I recycle, compost, and buy earth friendly food and household products. I always bring my reusable fabric bags to the store. I even have linen fruit and vegetable bags so I don’t have to use the handy (and poop friendly - you know what I'm talking about!) plastic bags provided in the produce section of most grocery stores. I switched to the smaller biodegradable poop bags to make up for the loss of those handy plastic bags and to do my part for the environment on the dog poop front.

Still, bio poop bags aside, I’ve been uncomfortable with throwing each pile of poop into an individual bag, three to six times a day, and tossing it into our garbage bin. How can that be right and just for the planet?

I toyed with the idea of leaving poop where it lies, pedestrians be damned, because after all isn’t poop natural? It must be better for the environment, if not for my neighbors, to simply leave it to decompose naturally. Plus my dogs usually move discreetly off of the beaten path to do their thing and I live in a heavily forested area with deer, raccoons, and all kinds of wildlife and nobody is picking up after them. The earth is used to waste, plus it is good fertilizer. Isn’t it?

Okay, I’ll admit that I never actually lost sleep over this quandary (and my good manners wouldn’t allow me to ever leave the poop behind) but I did begin to cringe ever so slightly and increasingly every time I used a bag of any kind to clean up after my dogs (or someone else’s thank you very much) and tossed it in the trash.

What to do?

As if heeding my cry for help and guidance the NDRC (Natural Resources Defense Council) featured pets and their poop in a recent newsletter by Sheryl Eisenberg. I found it very helpful and will share the essence of it with you here:

Surprisingly it is not a good idea to leave poop on the ground as nature intended. We simply have too many dogs now for Mother Nature to handle the load, so to speak. Poop left street side or in yards often gets washed into sewers and into waterways and can taint the local water source and leave it unfit for drinking and bathing.

Composting is also out because poop is full of pathogens and composting alone won’t kill’em.

There are many things you can do with dog poop, ecologically speaking:

Scoop and Bury – Ecologically sound as long as your water table isn’t too high and your hole isn’t too deep. You don’t want it getting into the groundwater. In the ground poop stays out of the local water source and deep in the earth microorganisms do eat it up. I guess this is kind of what I had in mind when I considered leaving poop to ol’Mother Nature. Good to see I wasn’t too off base.

Scoop and Flush It – Obviously our municipal sewage services and septic systems are tailor-made for waste. Apparently this is the best way to go (no pun intended!) Why didn’t I think of that?

Install A Pet Waste Digester in Your Yard. A mini-septic system, ‘nuff said.

Bag and Toss It – Who knew? Apparently placing poop in a plastic or bio bag and sealing it is not the devil of all options as I suspected. Bagging poop keeps it contained and out of the local water source in the event of a landfill leak. This does nothing to reduce landfills though, so perhaps is still is not the best option.

So there you have it. The scoop on poop. It’s time for me to buy a digester though I am going to keep some bio bags handy for when my guys hear the call of nature when we’re away from home. Because when a dog's gotta go, he's gonna go.


For more info check out the EPA article on Pet Waste and Water Quality

and Pet Waste Management Products at GreenCulture 

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