Scoop Da Poop!

Have you heard the old saying that dog poop is good for the yard? Or better yet, that dog poop – specifically, not picking up our dog poop – carries any danger to our family or community? Well, both of these statements are false.

In fact, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that dog waste spreads harmful organisms that include tapeworms, ringworms, hookworms, even salmonella! Pet waste is also connected to fecal coliform bacteria, which can lead to human conditions of cramps, diarrhea, kidney problems, and intestinal issues. With 23 million fecal coliform bacteria in a gram of pet waste, our chances of contracting such conditions is not too distant.

Now, we might be thinking, “The dog poop eventually decomposes, so any dangers are no longer there, so hah!” Well, we’re right in that the poop eventually decomposes through environmental conditions, but organism eggs can hang around in our yard for years! Think of it this way: When our kids are out playing in the backyard, our wife is doing a little gardening, or we have company over for a weekend barbecue and everyone’s walking around barefoot or coming into contact with the ground in some way, they all risk disease infection from dog poop long gone.

In addition, and for decades now, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified pet poop as another dangerous pollutant. The EPA classified pet waste in a similar category as toxic chemicals and oils. Perhaps we never thought about it, but un-scooped poop is transmitted to rivers, streams, lakes, oceans, and ground water by on-land water flows.

This all sounds a little scary when talking about a little pile of poop. Well, we might consider this a good side to the story: The Dung Beetle. The entire lifecycle of a dung beetle centers on poop – any kind of animal poop – because they get all the food and liquid they need from poop; dungs need no other nutrients to survive. This means we can thank the dung beetle for being a part of the environmental conditions that help to remove poop from yards and communities. Dung beetles are great for increasing soil nutrients, “ventilating” our soils, and for reducing livestock disease in pastures. So, if we care about nutritional soil more than human health, a dung beetle infestation might be good for the yard. Dung beetles also help get rid of flies during our barbecues because they compete with the flies for poop.

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We may think that picking up after our pets is a personal choice, but guess what? There is actually a law – Section 29-4.4(a)(9) of the Revised Ordinances of Honolulu – that basically states we are all required to pick up after our pets. May we all make the right choice and spread Aloha in our yards and communities.

 

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