April 7, 2010

A Candid Discussion About Poo

America’s 71 million dogs produce 29,000 tons of waste each day.

We pick up a lot of poo during our work day. Not just the poo we’ve made, but also that left by others. We got through a lot of bags — sometimes a roll in a day — and throw a lot of that poo in garbage cans we find along the way.

While I was surfing the web last night, I found out some interesting facts about dog poo and what happens to it (like the fact above). I know you might think it’s not very interesting or, in fact, a bit gross, but a student at Gretchen’s school got me to thinking about all the poo and where it goes. Here’s some of what I found out:

A study by city of San Francisco has shown that  dog poop occupies 3.4% of residential landfills.

Storm water carries dog poop and other dog waste directly into waterways. Pet waste is responsible for up to 90% of all bacterial watershed pollution in urban areas of the U.S. (Think of Puget Sound!)

Dog poop has a lot of nitrogen and adding nitrogen to our water depletes the oxygen needed for fish and  wildlife. (Oxygen depletion is one of the major causes of “dead zones” like the kind we’re seeing in Puget Sound and on the Hood Canal.)

Plastic bags or even biodegradable bags when thrown in an air tight landfill would overcrowd our land and not biodegrade.

E. coli, Giardia, Salmonella live inside dog poop and are dangerous to babies, humans and other animals when they enter our water system.

Roundworms and hookworms are also common in dog poop. These parasites are dangerous too when we contact them in soil.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that 2 days worth of dog waste from about 100 dogs would contribute enough pollution to close a bay, and all watershed areas within 20 miles of it.

Dog waste is 75% water and can be recycled.

Remaining 25% of dog waste can be used as fertilizer for non-food crops.

(More information can be found at this website!)

Amazing, isn’t it? It made me think all day about poo. We like to think of ourselves as environmentally conscious and we work on it every day — picking up other dogs’ poo is just one way we try to help. We’ve tried to use “biodegradable” bags, but the bags we like to use we’ve just learned are no longer considered biodegradable.

So we picked up some others that claim to be 100% biodegradable only about every fourth bag has a whole in it and frankly, Gretchen doesn’t like that much. I wouldn’t either. In my search last night on the internet, I came across this blog that says that now they’ve got flushable dog bags — as in dog bags that can be flushed down the toilet.

Cool, I thought, but then Gretchen informed me that it would be really hard to pick up all the poo we pick up and carry it back to the house.

“Do you want to wear a doggy backpack and help me carry it all to the toilet?”

Not really.

“And,” she added, “What about all that flushing? I worry that it might be a waste of water because the water they use in our toilets is good enough to drink and do you know how many people don’t have fresh water to drink every day?”

“Almost a billion?” I took a stab at it.

“Yes, you’re exactly right. What a smart dog you are!”

So today I was thinking about poo and how there’s no easy answers when trying to save the planet. We do our best to pick up all the poo we see out there so it doesn’t end up in the Sound, but sometimes I wish we could do more. Gretchen says that just by writing about it on my blog I’m educating people, but I’d sure like to do more.

Until I think of something more to do (doo doo?) we’ll keep using the 100% biodegradable bags (and watch for holes) and encourage all of you to do the same. And please, pick up the poo even if your dog didn’t do it. Maybe if we tell 10 other dog owners they can tell 10 more and soon all the poo will be picked up. Maybe then we can work on a way to flush it all away.

Yes, we walked dogs today (as you can see from some of the photos), but a quick run down.

Monty and me in the morning — spring break is great because we started earlier and walked longer. Love it! I call it my sacred time with Monty and refuse to let Gretchen take any photos of us. So far she’s obliged me.

Rosie was next and she and Gretchen went in search of great views and beautiful flowers. They’re out there!

Oshi and Perrito went in search of tall grass, which Perrito loved to push his ball around in and Oshi just wondered when they’d get to be back on the pavement!

Monty and I got to play with Saber first at the tennis courts where everyone got into the romp…

…and then on a walk down by the lake and through Frink Park where we tried to pose but some of us looked off in the distance while others tried to rub their nose collar off. Took awhile to get one nice photo of all the Three Amigos!

We rested at home while Gretchen made up some more dog food for me (yes, I’m spoiled and get the best homemade dog food ever!). She also threw together some power bars (for humans) and made an Italian chicken dinner with cannellini beans for her (and Ann’s) dinner. Amazing. It makes me even more tired to think about it all.

Oh and Monty and I got another walk in the rainy afternoon. No photos during that sacred time either, but we did pick up seven bags of dog poo — none of it came from us!

Think about it!


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