It is no laughing matter: failing to clean up after a dog can carry a hefty fine and penalties are going up – way up in some areas. The laws are on the books, and more and more areas are starting to enforce them.
“It’s a major public safety issue that hasn’t received much attention until recently, even though researchers have been studying the impact of pet waste on the environment for years,” says Jacob D’Aniello, cofounder and CEO of the nation’s leading pet waste management service, DoodyCalls. “More people than ever before use plastic disposal bags to clean up after their pet, but there are still many owners who seem to be oblivious to the hazards to their communities.”
Most laws are similar — No person owning, keeping, or having custody of a dog, except a seeing eye dog, shall allow or permit the dog to defecate or urinate on public property and each such person shall immediately remove dog excrement from any curb, gutter, alley or street.
Dog waste is a major source of potentially deadly E. coli and can contain up to 23 million fecal coli form bacteria. In 1991, it was labeled a non-point source pollutant by the Environmental Protection Agency, placing it in the same category as herbicides and insecticides; oil, grease and toxic chemicals; and acid drainage from abandoned mines.
The longer dog waste stays on the ground, the greater a contamination becomes. Bacteria, worms and other parasites thrive in waste, eventually washing away into the water supply. Ringworm, roundworm, salmonella and giardia are examples of such bacteria, all of which are found in dog feces and are easily transferable upon contact.
Dog waste can also be a common food source for rats. An unwanted rodent in any community, the presence of rats can decrease the property values of all nearby homes and presents a host of additional health concerns to residents themselves.
In any community, the presence of unattended to dog waste can quickly become a major point of conflict amongst residents. In fact, it is the single-most talked about problem in homeowner association and property manager board meetings across the country.
According to DoodyCalls, the best solution is a well-executed pet waste management plan involving regular common area cleanings and the introduction of pet waste stations into the community.
Depending on the type of community and scope of the problem, cleaning common areas may require walking the entire grounds to scoop up waste and other litter. In other cases, the issue will centralize it self in a few locations, referred to by DoodyCalls as “hot spots,” where waste tends to accumulate more frequently than others. Identifying hot spots and keeping them clean can help to prevent the problem from spreading.
The most effective waste management plans also include installing and maintaining pet waste stations in the community. When determining the number and location of stations, consider the density of homes, areas where dog owners tend to congregate and the natural foot traffic patterns throughout the grounds.
Keep in mind that even if a community has pet waste stations installed, it is recommended to continue full-fledged common area cleanings as well. DoodyCalls recommends a full clean every six months at the very least.