Lawns & Parks
Pet waste is a source of many harmful microorganisms that can be transmitted from the waste to humans if it is not promptly picked up and disposed of. This list includes E coli, Giardia, Cryptosporidium, Salmonella, Campylobacter, Brucellosis, and roundworm parasites. Many of these microorganisms will last months in the soil, and some up to four years, if not immediately cleaned up from lawns, along trails, in parks or preserves. Children and landscape workers who care for our lawns, gardens, and public areas are most at risk. Studies have shown that dog waste is also a significant source of bacterial and nutrient contamination to streams, especially during the "first flush" from a rain storm which carries the majority of the pollution washing off of lawns and hard surfaces.
To protect your family and to be considerate of your fellow residents and other trail users, please remember to "scoop the poop" with a plastic bag and dispose of it promptly in a public trash can or your own trash receptacle (not your neighbor's trash can or down storm drains, please!), and wash your hands. Composting or burying your pet's waste does not destroy harmful organisms.
Please don't go barefoot or wear open shoes in dog parks or other areas where dogs frequently deposit waste, and it is not advisable for young children to play in these areas.
Sources: Chester Ridley Crum Watersheds Association; Companion Animal Parasite Council; Snohomish County Public Works Department, Washington State.
Dogs are great companions for fresh air, exercise, and a wonderful way to enjoy our natural surroundings. However, pet waste has a negative impact on streams, walking trails, and natural areas. Recent studies by Chester Ridley Crum Watersheds Association, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and Villanova University have documented that our local creeks frequently have levels of fecal coliform bacteria three or more times the state recommended maximums for safe water contact. Studies by the Center for Watershed Protection have found that a significant portion of fecal coliform bacteria in residential stormwater originates from dog waste. These levels escalate when stormwater washes contamination from pet droppings into storm drains.
One average size dog dropping contains 3 billion fecal coliform bacteria. Multiply that by the fact that 40% of households have a dog, you can see how this problem "piles up," and adds to the challenge of treating much of our creek water for drinking water.
Do Your Part
Make your dog a friend of our creeks, fellow walkers, and our natural environment:
- Scoop up after your pet and dispose the waste properly - in a trash can or toilet
- Keep your pet on a leash and on trails in natural areas and avoid contact with wildlife
- Remain within off leash areas when off leash
- Encourage your friends and family to do the same!