Stolen: Following up questions on dog poop |

Stolen: Following up questions on dog poop

by Dr. Joanne Stolen

I wrote a recent article on dog poop ( There were a number of questions posted online and asked by friends and acquaintances such as “Why can’t we just toss the feces into the woods”? “Won’t the poop fertilize the lawn”? “Can we toss dog feces into the compost bin”? “What about horse manure on the trails”? “Who is responsible for picking up poop near waterways and on the streets”? Some of these I can answer, others I don’t know the answer to, like who is responsible for picking up piles of dog poop at the Frisco Bay Marina, right where it will wash into Dillon Reservoir or who will clean the poop off the sidewalks? Perhaps someone in the town or county knows.As for tossing poop off the trails, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies pet waste a “nonpoint source of pollution”, in the same category as oil and toxic chemicals! EPA 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 with the spring melt, off even the poop in the woods will wash into the streams and waterways and the excess nutrient will cause algae and weeds to grow affecting the oxygen levels for fish and also increase the numbers of potentially harmful microorganisms. So you should not just toss the feces into the woods! Ever seen what a pile of poop does to the lawn? A “pile” on a lawn, in a short time, can cause the grass to turn yellow and brown. It is actually toxic to the grass. According to the Center for Disease Control, dog feces can cause a vicious cycle to be perpetuated. It has been estimated that a single gram of dog waste can contain 23 million fecal coliform bacteria, which cause intestinal illness, and kidney disorders, and contains various other parasites like round worms. These microorganisms may pass to a child who is playing on the lawn, a person walking on the lawn, or gardening and furthermore those parasites can also pass diseases from dog to dog. You dog can become repeatedly infested. So, in essence, the cycle begins and ends with to dog owner.Why can’t I just throw dog poop into the compost bin? Agricultural extension sites say that dog manure should not be added to compost bins. Composting temperatures must reach 160 degrees to kill harmful microbes and most compost bins do not reach these temperatures. For this reason composted dog feces should not be used on eatable plants. Pet owners they can build a type of septic system bin to dispose their pets waste into. What about horse manure on trails? Obviously that is very messy and in larger piles. Horseback riders claim they cannot get off their horses and pick up the manure. Horses are herbivores and dogs are for the most part carnivores and the manure varies in composition. Horse manure when it comes down to it is recycled grass and does not carry the same harmful microorganisms. Why do people not pick up after their dogs? It’s “too much work.” They assume it eventually goes away, or the dog deposited the feces in an area far from the water, such as in the owner’s yard or in the woods. Prior to adopting a dog, most people don’t give much thought to the task of poop cleanup. The EPA says, “The reluctance of many residents to handle dog waste is the biggest limitation to controlling pet waste.” Another major reason is “out of sight out of mind”, especially in snowy climates like here in Summit County. During the winter the feces seem to disappear in the snow. Well now that the snow is melting all those brown piles are appearing!

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