Northwood News ♦ February 2016
The Scoop on Dog Poop
By Laura Hussey
We live in a neighborhood full of dog lovers (myself included) and,
unfortunately, sometimes it shows ... in a not very pleasant way. If
your dog relieves himself when out for a walk in the neighborhood, it is your
responsibility under Montgomery County law to pick up the feces and dispose
of it in an appropriate receptacle.
There are lots of good reasons to perform poop-pickup. The obvious one is
that no one wants to step in dog poop, but here are some other reasons. Did
you know that:
- Dog waste contains high levels of nutrients that deplete levels of oxygen in
our watershed, endangering fish and our beloved blue crabs. And if you think
your little dog doesn’t poop much, I’ll just leave it at think again.
Most dogs poop twice a day, so that little pile becomes 14 piles a week times 52 weeks
a year. That little pile becomes a pretty big pile of you-know-what!
- Dog waste also contains high levels of nutrients that attract other — ahem
— undesirable animals, namely rats. I’m a pretty fervent animal
lover, but that is one animal I don’t love. Enough said.
- Dogs can harbor dozens of diseases that are transmissible to humans, including
through contact with an infected dog’s feces. All of these zoonotic diseases
are also transmissible to other dogs. An infected dog does not have to exhibit any
signs of illness to pass along a disease to a human or another dog, and picking up poop
before another mammal comes into contact with it or parasites in the poop take up
residence in the soil is the best way to prevent the spread of certain parasites.
- Children are especially vulnerable to acquiring infections from the soil, either
because they play in the dirt or drop toys in it and then touch their hands to food or
their faces. Where do kids play? The park. Where do dogs get
walked? The park.
- Young dogs whose immune systems have not fully matured can (and often do) die when
they contract parvovirus, a disease that is passed from dog to dog by contact with an
infected dog’s feces. An otherwise healthy adult dog with parvovirus may not
seem very sick, and will almost certainly recover from the infection, but any young dogs
who come in contact with their feces may not. What a terrible gift to give a
neighbor who is in love with their new puppy!
It goes without saying that you should be prepared when you take your dog for a
walk: carry plastic bags designed for picking up poop, or some other suitable
bag. What if you find yourself unprepared? On a recent walk I found myself
unprepared, but I spied a newspaper in a driveway. I removed the newspaper and
put it on the rightful owner’s porch (it was a dry day), and used the newspaper
bag to pick up the poop and take it home. I have also “borrowed” a
bag from another dog walker; most dog walkers are happy to lend a bag.
Thanks for poop scooping, dog lovers! ■