Pet waste left on the ground can be carried by rain or irrigation water into our local creeks and bays, contributing to water pollution. Pet waste contains pathogenic bacteria and parasites that can affect human health. When pet waste is washed into our waterways it decays in the water, which impacts oxygen levels that can be harmful to fish and other aquatic wildlife. It also contains nutrients that increase weed and algae growth.
WHY SCOOP THE POOP?
In Corpus Christi, there are approximately 73,000 dogs that each produce about 275 lbs of waste a year – that’s over 10,000 tons of dog waste generated each year in Corpus Christi alone!
Pet waste contains bacteria and parasites like ringworm, salmonella, Giardia, and E. coli – to name just a few. Just one gram of dog waste can contain up to 23 million fecal coliform bacteria. Fecal coliform are bacteria are known to cause serious health problems in humans, like intestinal illness and kidney disorders. Once these water-borne pathogens enter water bodies, like our bays and estuaries, they can make the water unfit for swimming and other recreational activities.
Pet waste can pollute our bays and estuaries in other ways. When pet waste enters our water, it starts to rot or decompose, a process that uses up oxygen. Pet waste also contains nutrients that promote the growth of aquatic plants and algae. Unfortunately, this overgrowth only lasts a short period of time before the plants and algae start to die. As the plants and algae die, they being to rot, a process that uses oxygen. These low oxygen levels can lead to the die-off of fish and other wildlife.
IS THERE A LAW THAT REQUIRES ME TO SCOOP MY DOG’S POOP?
Yes, City ordinance 22.11 requires the owner or person in control of an animal to remove any feces deposited by the animal on public or private property immediately. Animal feces deposited upon on the owner’s private property must be collected and removed daily.
WHY CAN WILDLIFE POOP OUTSIDE, BUT MY DOG CAN’T?
Wildlife and birds eat food that is found outside, like plants, insects, and other wildlife. As they digest they extract some nutrients from these sources, and anything they cannot use leaves their body in feces or urine. This means that native wildlife are using nutrients from their home, and returning any unused nutrients back to their original area. There is no increase or decrease in nutrients between the plants, insects, and other wildlife in the ecosystem. Pet foods that we feed our dogs are designed to be nutritious and healthy. However, the nutrients in the pet food don’t originate from the area where our pets live, so any nutrients found in dog waste increase the amount of nutrients in the environment.
ARE THERE ANY OTHER REASONS TO SCOOP THE POOP?
Rats! Rats and other rodents, like mice, will be attracted to dog poop as a food source. Rats can decrease property values and present health concerns to both people and pets, as their urine and feces are known to cause illnesses such as typhus and salmonella.
CAN I USE DOG WASTE AS A FERTILIZER?
No, dog waste should not be used as a fertilizer. While cow or horse manure are often used as fertilizers, the diet of these animals is very different from dogs and not all animal waste is the same. The diet of the animal is the primary factor in determining if animal waste will be beneficial to your soil. A good rule to follow is that if an animal is an herbivore, eating only plant matter, the waste can be used as a fertilizer. Since cows and horses eat plants, their manure can be used for fertilizer. Dogs, on the other hand, mostly eat meat so their waste should not be used for fertilizer.
ISN’T PICKING UP THE POOP GROSS?
We think that swimming, fishing, and boating in water that has been contaminated by dog poop is grosser than picking up the poop. When done properly, you should not come into contact with the poop. If you are concerned about picking up dog waste on walks you can carry gloves and hand sanitizer with you. If you let your dog go to the bathroom in your yard, there are services available that will come to your property to pick up and dispose of waste properly. There are no excuses for not picking up the poop!
- Bag pet waste and place it into your garbage can for pickup.
- Clean pet waste from yards every day.
- Only dispose of pet waste in solid waste containers.
- Never rinse pet waste out of yards or sidewalks into storm drains.
- Don't use pet waste as fertilizer or compost. This can create health hazards and can harm soil quality.
- Never toss pet waste into a storm drain.