Why should I
pick up my dog's POOP?
Because, It's The Law!
The fact is, the laws have been on the books for decades forcing pet owners to pick up their dog poop.
Most people believe the laws only apply to public property or property other than their own backyard. However most of the laws do not address where or when the dog poop should be picked up or specify that any location that is exempt from the law including the dog owners property.
Of course some municipalities do specifically exempt property owners from picking up dog waste in their own yard, but all that is changing daily because of the extreme environmental and health risks involved with dog poop.
In 2012 St Petersburg Florida amended their law to close the loophole that allowed pet owners to let dog poop pile up on their own property. Pet owners are now required to clean up after their pets even in their own yard so waste does not contaminate water supplies and endanger public health.
The Charleston South Carolina Environmental Control Ordinance, Article 2, Sec. 26-2(f) states that it is unlawful for anyone to allow their dog or cat to "discharge its excreta" on the pet owner's property or anywhere else unless that person immediately removes the waste from the public or private property. Violation of this ordinance could carry a fine of up to $1,092.
Other communities like Puget Sound-area cities in Washington, have recently instituted new laws, going as far as requiring the removal of pet waste from private property every 24 hours. (link to pdf file)
There are countless laws on the books that address the issue of cleaning up dog waste and now they are getting stricter to prevent the resulting problems before they become an epidemic.
Research shows that 78 million dogs pile up 20 billion pounds of waste annually. Shamefully, 40 percent, or 8 billion pounds, is never picked up by owners. That waste is washed away by rain water into waterways and reservoirs polluting drinking water, endangering wildlife and creating extreme heath hazards for animals and humans.
Parasites and bacteria from dogs feces can be transmitted to humans when they use those waterways for swimming, fishing, boating or simply just stepping in a puddle of water that was in the path of dog poop runoff from someone yard.
Parasites from cat feces are causing deadly brain damage in California sea otters. While herpes virus is killing off California sea lions, and toxic algae blooms created by dog poop are contributing to record manatee deaths in Florida.
The water in Florida is at a particularly high risk and many water ways are already on federal cleanup programs to try to save them and protect wildlife such as Florida's Manatees.
Isn't it a shame that your dog's poop is killing manatees?
In 2013 there were 803 manatee deaths in state waters between Jan. 1 and Dec. 13 mostly caused by toxic algae blooms. Dog poop contributes to the algae growth and makes the water toxic to fish, birds and the manatees. With only about 5000 manatees in the state of Florida every precaution must be taken to protect populations.
That's one reason why the Sarasota Bay estuary program has joined the effort to safeguard public health and keep our waters clean. The program has teamed with the Tampa Bay Estuary Program to offer the "Pooches for the Planet" pet-waste pollution education program.
In Stevenson Creek in Clearwater, Fl residents were outraged when they believed a sewage treatment plant was polluting the waterway, however after further testing it was actually dog waste from peoples yards that was creating the problem.
The issue is not going away, with more and more families getting pets each year, the problem just grows and if the waste is not cleaned up it will eventually permanently damage much needed natural resources.
The problem is so bad that governments have resorted to requiring DNA testing of pets so that they can be matched against dog waste that is not cleaned up by the owners. This is now occurring in Germany, Isreal, France and Italy and being considered by many municipalities in the USA.
The only factor currently keeping US cities from adopting these programs is the huge initial cost and budget restrictions, however the process is currently being used by many apartment complexes, gated communities and condo associations to curb the dog waste problem.
As the problem gets worse, governments are taking extreme measures to get dog waste cleaned up and it is only a matter of time before they all tighten those loopholes and start fining people for leaving dog poop in their yards.
You can wait until that happens or you can do the responsible thing and clean up the waste now before it is a problem for you, your children and your pets.