Keep the Poop Out of Our Waterways!
We love our waterways. They transport goods, provide life and host entirely hidden ecosystems. They’re also great places to walk our dogs. Therein, however, lies the problem. The exact waterways we can thank for our hydration and enrichment are undergoing a nearly invisible yet extremely serious transformation, at the hands (or paws) of our dogs.
It’s not really their fault, though. They’re just doing what dogs do, aka poop. The fault is with the owners of these dogs, many of whom are being irresponsible in failing to pick up their dog’s waste. This laissez faire attitude comes at quite a cost for public health, though.
In a recent article published by CBC, the councillor for Dartmouth Center, Sam Austin, said, "It's adding two things to the waterway: it's adding, of course, a huge dose of phosphorus, and then the other piece is E. coli.”
That doesn’t sound good, but what exactly does it mean? Most of us have heard about E. coli infections, which include symptoms of severe gastrointestinal stress and fever, and in some cases, these infections can be fatal. Increased phosphorous levels does not sound nearly as scary as E. coli, but the reality is serious. As Austin explained in the above-mentioned article, increased levels of phosphorous can lead to increased plant growth which can, in turn, lead to more blue-green algae. While not all blue-green algae is toxic, some blooms are dangerous to humans and pets.
With a recent increase in dog deaths due to this toxic algae, it seems that the improper disposal of dogs’ waste could be directly impacting and harming them. This issue is not a new one, but it is only getting worse. Back in 2013, an article written by The Cooperator New York quotes Anthony Gillis, president of Zerowaste.usa.com as saying, “It is estimated that one-third of all water contamination is a result of dog waste runoff entering streams and leaching into underground well water.”
Want to know something even grosser? Probably not, but you need to. Read on.
On average, one pile of dog waste can host 3 billion bacteria, including roundworm eggs, which can survive in soil for years, where they can be passed onto other pets and humans.
All of this might sound overwhelming and frankly, disgusting. And it is! Picking up waste is a dog owner’s responsibility, and failing to do so isn’t just a nuisance - it’s a major public health concern. So let’s all vow to protect our waterways and just clean up the crap.