The truth about poop
As the weather warms and we start to hit the hiking trails many will be turned off by what was left behind by dogs of pooper-scooper scofflaws. Instead of enjoying the mountain scenery we have to look down to avoid brown smelly piles.
In Pitkin County a ranger for Open Space and Trails tried to make a point and he marked all the visible piles of feces along the first section of the Arbaney-Kittle trail with flags. He said, “It’s a corridor of feces.” In the first 200 yards, he posted at least 100 flags.
Under Colorado Law (“Sec. 4-71. Removal of animal waste required.”): “The owner or keeper of any animal shall be responsible for the immediate removal of any feces deposited by such animal on any property, public or private, not owned or exclusively occupied by the owner or keeper. The owner or keeper of any animal shall also be responsible for the periodic removal of feces deposited by such animal on property owned or exclusively occupied by such owner or keeper so as to prevent the creation of a public nuisance within the meaning of.”
Dog waste is one of the top six recreational management concerns facing land managers. In cities around the world drastic measures have been taken. Pleasant signs and even convenient plastic bags don’t seem to work.
Communities have spent thousands of dollars on education campaigns. Fines in New York City have been recently raised from $100 to $250, and in London the fine is a whopping $700.
Poop contains live bacteria, parasites, viruses, dead cells and mucus from the lining of the intestine, and protein. Washed into the waterways it creates excess nutrients for weeds and algae. It is toxic to the lawns and plants because it contains a high concentration of proteins. The pathogens in poop can remain for years in the soil, and perpetuate a harmful cycle that can pollute the environment, and affect the health of people and recycle parasites back into pets. Dog poop is a also common carrier of disease agents such as heart worms, tape worms, round worms, Giardiasis, and Cryptosporidiosis, bacteria which cause Salmonellosis, Campylobacteriosis, and viruses such as parvovirus, which is deadly to dogs. It has been estimated that a single gram of dog waste can contain 23 million fecal coliform bacteria, or E. coli. This species of bacteria are known to cause cramps, diarrhea, intestinal illness and serious kidney disorders in humans, and when entering an open wound can cause an infection.
The Environmental Protection Agency even estimates that two or three days’ worth of droppings from a population of about 100 dogs would contribute enough bacteria to temporarily close a bay, and all watershed areas within 20 miles of it, to swimming and shell fishing.
So folks, be a good citizen and environmentalist and clean up after your dogs.
Dr. Joanne Stolen, microbiologist
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