More than a nuisance
Dog waste is a recognized
pollutant that is unsightly, smelly, and
potentially contains disease-causing pathogens.
The U. S. pet population is now outpacing
the human population. According to a recent
survey by the American Pet Products Manufacturers
Association, 63% of all American households
own pets - up from 56% in 1988. The American
Pet Association estimates that 83 million
dogs in the US produce 11+ million tons
of waste per year. If we add the nation's
88 million cats, we get an annual total
of 15.5 million tons - enough to cover more
than 5,000 football fields 10 feet deep!
What do you do with it?
Toilets and sanitary sewage
treatment have provided modern man with
a workable solution to human waste disposal.
But there is no effective, broadly-implemented
solution to eliminating the problem of pet
waste. At this point, guardians, shelters,
kennels, breeders, pet shops, municipalities,
and pick-up services are left to their own
devices. Currently the most common way to
disposel of pet waste is tossing it in the
trash or, in the case of 40% of dog waste,
leaving it on the ground. Both have negative
Landfills = waste in perpetuity
Most cat waste and approximately
60% of the dog waste is dumped into garbage
bins which are emptied into landfills. The
trash option usually involves plastic bags
which can take centuries to degrade while
the waste inside is preserved for posterity
while emitting methane. The landfills themselves
are disasters waiting to happen.
The Wisconsin Department
of Natural Resources states: "Current
landfill designs and practices do not
provide for degradation of landfilled
organic wastes within a defined and reasonable
timeframe. Undegraded organic wastes
can potentially cause future environmental
or economic impacts if the landfill gas
and leachate collection and containment
systems (cap and/or liner) fail at some
time in the future. Potential economic
burdens and environmental risks associated
with these undegraded wastes will be
largely borne by future generations."
According to the U. S.
Geological Survey, "
are designed to minimize contamination of
ground water, but modern landfills eventually
may leak contaminants into the environment."
account for 18% of all methane released
in the U.S.
Across the country, landfills
are topping out, raising rates, and losing
favor as a solution for the 230 million
tons of solid waste generated in the U.
S. annually. Ecologically savvy communities
are looking for innovative ways to divert
waste from landfills.
Letting nature take its course
show that roughly 40% of all dog owners
do not "stoop and scoop."
Don't kid yourself - the ecosystem does
not gracefully embrace the dog waste. If
left intact, it can take more than a year
to break down. Until then it poses a health
threat to people and pets. Unlike wild animals
that actually help propagate forests with
their thinly deposited scat, domesticated
dogs leave waste behind in concentrated
areas and in proximity to human activity.
The resulting nuisance factors are obvious.
Dog waste can quickly turn
any outdoor area into a site unfit for humans.
In addition to the mess and smell it creates,
raw waste kills grass and other landscape
ornamentals. Dog waste dropped along trails
kills native plants and encourages noxious
weed infestation. Residual waste left at
ground zero runs off untreated into storm
sewers and waterways.
Recent studies indicate
are third or fourth on the list of contributors
to bacteria in contaminated waters,
increasing the potential for serious diseases,
including cholera and dysentery. The Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that two
days worth of dog waste from about 100 dogs
can create enough pollution to close a bay
and all the watersheds within 20 miles.
In addition to threats to humans, bacteria
that feed on dog waste deplete oxygen, killing
native aquatic life. The bacteria also feed
algae blooms which block sunlight and suffocate
Do Landfills Work?
Waste Poses Threat to Water, USA Today