Pet waste is not part of the natural ecosystem and actually contains pollutants that are harmful to our waterways. It also has a negative impact to area businesses, public health and the overall quality of life in our public spaces.
It belongs in the trash instead of the grass.
#ScoopThePoop A nudge to pick up the fudge
Pet waste issues are piling up as our City and downtown Springfield continues its momentum attracting visitors and residents through new businesses, special events and apartment dwellings.
We encourage pet waste owners to help us tackle this issue and #scoopthepoop.
- Nearly 25 pounds of pet waste is collected weekly from Downtown Springfield’s Park Central Square, Jubilee Park and surrounding public parking lots.
- It costs the City an estimated $7,500 a year to collect and manage.
- The City and CID currently partner to provide pet waste bags at approximately 15 dispensers located throughout the downtown footprint.
There are three locations in park central square and two in Jubilee Park.
Water Quality Who wants waste in their water?
“Many people don’t realize that what their dog is leaving behind is essentially raw sewage,” explains Carrie Lamb, Springfield Environmental Services Water Quality Compliance Officer. “Pet waste is not part of the natural ecosystem and actually contains pollutants that are harmful to our waterways. It’s not fertilizer. It’s not compostable. It belongs in the trash.”
Pet waste is currently listed in our city code as unlawful to contribute to our waterways, however this is very challenging to enforce. We’re starting with education to encourage the community to change their habits and do the right thing.
Awareness Poo Flagging
Following increasing complaints to the City and Downtown CID, the City is tackling the problem with an awareness campaign aimed at encouraging the public to scoop their pet’s poop. Beginning in mid-summer, lighted message boards, typically used to relay road closure information, were placed in Park Central Square and nearby areas. The boards relay catchy reminders like “Keep it classy, pick up after Lassie” and “Scooby Dooby Doo, pick up your poo.” The messaging blitz was followed up by the appearance of small flags.
These small flags, or poop flags, have witty and fun sayings like “Pick up the poo. Yep, that’s right, you,” “Do you even care? Not in the Square!” and “Drop in the trash, not in the grass” displayed along with the hashtag #scoopthepoop. The goal of the “poo flagging” is to bring increased awareness to the source of the issue. Due to the increasing amount of pet waste being left behind by irresponsible pet owners, it seemed that additional efforts were necessary.
This awareness campaign will help to educate the public on the impact it has on area businesses, public health, water quality and the overall quality of life downtown. The City hopes to spur community discussions among downtown businesses, pet owners, residents and all other stakeholders on how to continue to address the issue.
During poo flagging, locations of pet waste were recorded. The below map, also linked here, gives a bird's eye view of the pet waste pollution in context to our City's Downtown and pet bag dispenser locations.
Fertilizer? Think Again
Pet waste, although naturally occurring, is not a natural fertilizer. The diets of dogs are high in protein and very different from the diet of a cow - whom we use for fertilizer needs. The end byproduct of every animal may be brown and smelly, but their diets, parasites and bacterias are all different.
Here are some reasons why we recommend not using pet waste as fertilizer:
A single gram of dog poop can contain over 20 million bacteria. Shocked? The number is actually closer to 23 million bacteria. Campylobacter is a bacteria that can often be carried by pets that can also make people sick. According to the CDC, it is responsible for over 1.3 million illnesses each year.
Other bacteria: MRSA, leptospira, e. coli and salmonella
Large roundworms are one parasite present in dog waste. They are relatively hearty parasites and are known to even be heat-resistant. These are especially harmful to other pets that come in contact with infected pet waste. It can even be transmitted to humans who are in contact with pet waste or soil that contains eggs.
Other parasites: hookworms, tapeworms, giardia, and cryptosporidium
Poop has been happening for millennia, but while most poop may be brown and stinky, not all poop has been created equal!
The diet of a brontosaurus🦕 was different from the diet of an allosaurus🦖
In much the same way, the diet of a cow🐄 is different from a dog🐕.
This is largely attributed to diet. A protein-based diet creates byproduct that is acidic and not good for grass or other plants.
Algae blooms have been a recent topic in news headlines. In fact, animal and pet waste can be large contributors to the nutrient spikes that help to create these blooms. As the EPA reminds us, this is just another reason to #scoopthepoop
If the above reasons were not enough to sway you from tossing your pet doo in the compost bin, then it should be noted that the temperatures achieved during "cooking" of home compost are not recognized as high enough to kill the potential parasites and bacteria that exist in dog waste. Even if it were to reach these temperatures, it is highly advised to never use compost containing pet waste for vegetable and fruit gardens.
The University of Florida echoed these concerns in a recent study, while offering a 'recipe' for pet waste composting. Do not use pet waste as fertilizer for food crops.