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Pick up after your dog: Be a pooper scooper

Nina Spitzer is a SheKnows.com columnist and a freelance writer living in sunny Cave Creek, Arizona.

Scoop the poop!

It's a problem that has plagued people for hundreds of years: dookie on the shoe. Apart from the obvious smell issues, here are some more reasons why -- and how to -- scoop that poop!

Clean it Up Sign

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the current US dog population is about 80 million. When you come right down to it… That's a lot of dog poop.

Unfortunately, many dog owners don't feel compelled to scoop the poop. A popular belief is that dog feces are a natural fertilizer. Wrong!  It's as toxic as human waste, teeming with bacteria, parasites and other pathogens that are transferable to humans and pose a serious health risk.


Worms, anyone?

Removing the dog feces minimizes the chances of exposure to eggs and larvae of roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms and other parasitic worms that wreak havoc with the human intestinal system. Some parasitic worms found in dog feces can cause serious eye damage to young children. Scooping the dog poop is essential to keeping these critters from worming their way into our bodies.


Ugly, disgusting, unsafe…

Oh…and offensive, too! You're strolling through the park, holding hands with your sweetie, totally absorbed in conversation and his blue eyes when you step on a fresh pile of dog poop hiding in the grass. What a mood killer!

Maybe you were lucky enough that your foot missed the doggie surprise, but your nose sure didn't miss the putrid odor. Kids and families enjoy playing, hiking, and picnicking in parks and public places. Not scooping the poop isn't just unhealthful: It's just plain rude.

Dog poop pickup sign - Venice, ItalyLove a day at the beach? Did you know rainwater and irrigation runoff can carry bacteria from unmanaged dog waste to beaches? The resulting elevated bacteria levels in the water threaten the health of swimmers, surfers, children building sand castles and tide pool explorers, resulting in beach closures. It's wrong to ruin the pleasure of others and put them at a health risk because you don't pick up after your pooch.


Scoop the poop for the environment? Absolutely!

While you're indoors enjoying a good book on a rainy day, thousands of pounds of bacteria- and pathogen-filled pet waste are being washed down storm drains and into city sewer systems. The water then runs into local waterways, where the fecal matter decomposes, using up oxygen and releasing pollutants. The high levels of ammonia in these pollutants can kill fish and other aquatic organisms.

All of this can be prevented if people respect the ecology and consistently scoop the dog poop.


Be community-minded about dog poop

If you're wondering why your neighbor is hostile to you and your dog, maybe it's because Fido's poop and urine are ruining his prize lawn. Are people in your neighborhood upset because the favorite route for their morning walk is dotted with dog feces?

Has your municipal government considered a ban on dogs in public areas because discourteous dog owners don't pick up after their pets? Be a courteous community member and pick up after your dog.


Easy poop scooping

However distasteful, poop detail is essential — so here's a simple way to get it done. Save plastic grocery bags to recycle for the chore. Turn the bag inside out, put your hand in it as if it were a glove, gently pick up the stuff (gagging is permitted), turn the bag back around, and tie it shut. Drop it into a garbage pail. Done!  Carry some individually wrapped disinfectant hand wipes (just in case). Now, wasn't that easy?


Not just you

Help others remember that picking up after their dogs is not a one-week thing, but a yearlong obligation to the community, environment and family health.


More articles about pets and the environment

Tips to keep your pet and environment healthy
Eco-friendly pet practices

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