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It’s Dirty Business

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Did you know that approximately 60% of dog owners don’t pick up after their pets in public?  The EPA estimates the amount of waste  per dog is 273 pounds per year, and with 74 million dogs nationwide, that totals 10 million tons of pet waste annually in the US.

An article in the Spring 2011 edition of Dog Fancy’s Natural Dog addresses the problems caused by not picking up after pets, or disposing of waste in less than earth friendly ways.  When it rains, pet waste is carried via runoff into storm drains that often empty into lakes, streams, rivers and oceans.  There may be parasites in the waste that can then be transmitted to pets, or can bypass wastewater processing plants and find their way into human water supplies.

For those that do pick up after their pets, the most popular method is using plastic bags.  Although better than not picking up at all, the plastic bags end up in landfills where they’re buried amongst other trash.  Even biodegradable bags don’t provide much relief, since these bags need to be exposed to the elements to start breaking down.  In landfills, the bags are simply covered with more trash, not giving the needed exposure to start the degrading process.

So what are the best ways to dispose of our pet’s waste?  The EPA recommends flushing dog’s waste if it isn’t mixed with any other material.  Flushing pet waste ensures it will pass through wastewater treatment plants like human waste does.  This is recommended for dog waste only, do not flush cat waste, since it may contain the parasite toxoplasmosis, which is harmful to sea life.

If you don’t want to flush pet waste, other options include home or commercial composting.  For more information on composting, check out dogchannel.com/extras, cityfarmer.org and planetnatural.com

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