No one enjoys dealing with dog poop. It’s an unfortunate side effect of having your furry friend, and if you got yourself into the poop boat, you have to find ways to cope. Sadly, many people deal with it by simply ignoring it. Everyone, dog parent or not, has had the unpleasant experience of having to clean off a shoe after stepping in a surprise pile of poo. Since you can only control your own dog, what are we to do?! Thankfully, there are some wonderfully creative people, and cities, that are lighting the way!
While it is a smelly nuisance, the biggest issue with dog feces is the health hazard. The waste can contain a number of parasites like parvovirus, various worms, giardia, and coccidia. When left to rot, the parasites can contaminate water and soil, and cause infections in animals AND humans. Hookworms are especially dangerous because they are easy to catch. Coming into contact with dog poop by accident can spread these wonderful surprises to humans, but the real danger comes when large amounts of feces build up in a small area. Removal should happen every week or more.
Being responsible for your own yard is one thing, but exposing other people to your dog’s leavings is unconscionable. Yet it’s hard to not see the piles left by lazy humans in public areas. Despite most city parks and streets featuring plastic bags and garbage cans to dispose of the poop, it seldom happens. In response, more and more cities are brainstorming creative ways to deal with the issue. Some are practical, and seem like no-brainers. Others are more unusual, but all of them are wonderful, and are helping keep the streets clean!
England has taken a number of strong stances against the spread of dog poop flooding public areas. While some attempts are pretty standard fare, like appealing to the public to help pick up waste, or speaking to offenders face to face, they also have a few wonderful and hilarious concepts too. One of the most amusing is the process of shaming dog parents into acting. In the town of Dorset, piles of dog poop were spray painted in vibrant colors, sometimes accompanied by a sign scolding the lazy humans. In West Yorkshire, British Waterways (an organization tasked with protecting waterways around the UK) collected the bags that people used to pick up the poop, only to toss into the brush instead of disposing of them. They hung the bags from trees in the area, nearly eclipsing the branches from the sheer volume. These actions yielded a 70% decrease in the amount of waste! Apparently shame works.
Here in the US, 33 states have taken up DNA testing of dog feces in order to track down the people responsible for leaving it. BioPet Vet Lab in Tennessee offers its PooPrints testing kits to interested parties, be it apartment complexes, neighborhoods, or cities. Communities can require DNA tests when getting a dog licensed and registered, which means that tracking down the offending party is just a cotton swab away. Some apartments charge a $30 deposit to cover any testing that may be done, while other areas charge the offender, and that is on top of the fines (which can go as high as $1,000) and the embarrassment of being caught.
Some concerned citizens have decided to pick up the slack themselves, and find ways to make money doing it! Tyler Irvine may only be thirteen, but his business acumen belies his years. He began his own business, calling himself “The Turd Burgler.” Tyler, armed with a rake and scooper, offers his services for between $25-$50, cleaning yards great and small. Oddly enough, there is more demand for his service than there would be for mowing lawns!
Another person who decided to take poop and turn it into gold is Swiss designer Océane Izard. Her three dogs inspired the creation of “Poo Poo Power,” which uses dog poop to generate power! The device houses bacteria that breaks the fecal matter down and extracts the methane, in turn charging batteries you can use round the house. According to Izard, a small dog typically produces just under a pound of waste a day, which can run a fan for a couple of hours, while a large dog that produces 2 pounds or more a day could power your refrigerator. While something like the Poo Poo Power is a long way off from home or commercial use, the possibility makes the thought of picking up after your dog a lot more appealing.
There is no end to the creative ways to handle dog waste, but the real moral is that every dog parent should BE RESPONSIBLE. Pick up after your dog, and make sure to (nicely) encourage others to do so. If we all do our part, then there will be no need for DNA tests or garish spray paint. So until you have your very own Poo Poo Power, make sure to throw away that poo!
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