The scoop on poop . . . Pick it up!

Did you know that in Clark County alone there are over 103-THOUSAND dogs? AND did you know that the average dog leaves 23 piles of poop EACH WEEK? AND that the weight of all dog waste produced in Clark County is 6,000 TONS a year . . . the equivalent of FIFTEEN Boeing 747s!

With two dogs and a growing pet-sitting business, my days are filled with it — dog poop. Of all the joy dogs bring, scooping poop ranks as the numero uno most unpleasant responsibility of owning one.

I won’t deny that I have been guilty of being accidentally “bagless” on several outings with my fur monsters. When the days become shorter and the weather turns colder, my backyard can turn into a hazard zone. Before meeting Elena Cronin, Clark County Clean Water Outreach Coordinator, and learning about the county’s Canines for Clean Water program, I was like many who just do not realize the negative impact of not always picking up after my pets.

A little bit of pet waste can add up in a hurry when left behind in yards, paths, streets and parks. When it rains, the poop “melts,” and the runoff washes down the nearest storm drain — directly into the stream, river, lake, wetland and seawater — untreated. 

Besides negatively blemishing the beauty of the landscape and directly affecting water quality, this waste contains lots of nasty bacteria with almost unpronounceable names:  fecal coli form, E. Coli, salmonella, giardia and Cryptosporidium, to name a few. All sorts of parasites, pathogens and nasty critter bugs that can make humans and animals sick — sometimes very sick.

The theme of Clark County’s Canines for Clean Water program (and other like programs around the country) is very simple; plain, but vital.

  1. Scoop the poop.
  2. Bag it.
  3. Toss it in the garbage.

The best, most environmentally-friendly way to handle dog poop is to scoop it up in a plastic bag. Put the bag on your hand like a glove, scoop the poop, slip the bag off inside-out and toss it in the trash.  There are many biodegradable bags on the market, but for the budget-conscious, grocery, dollar store or newspaper bags work just fine.

If stooping and scooping is back-breaking, there are tons of hand-held pooper scoopers available. I discovered some interesting choices for dealing with doggie doodie online. From lemon-scented biodegradable bags to Poop-freeze, a spray that renders the poo frozen can make the task less hateful. Whatever works.

“Getting it into the trash is most important,” says Cronin, “no matter how it’s accomplished.” Another key point — do not flush it down the toilet. Cronin says, “Landfills are designed to handle dog waste and cat litter; septic and sewer systems are not.”

To help keep natural water sources untainted, raise your paw as a responsible dog owner by taking the Clean Water pledge. You’ll receive a gorgeous blue Canines for Clean Water bandana free, which your pooch can sport around town encouraging other pet-owners to do the same.

Submit a photo of your dog wearing the bandana to the county website and not only will your baby’s picture be posted for all to see but you’ll receive a Stoop Stool pooper-scooper (again, free!). Plus, each month, five lucky pooch parents will win a bone-shaped poop bag-holder that clips right onto the leash. It’s cute, and you’ll never be caught “bagless” again.

Scooping poop has a major “ewww” factor to it. Nobody wants to see it, touch it, smell it, step in it, have their family or pets play in it, or HAVE IT GO INTO THEIR WATERWAYS. Scoop, bag and toss . . . take the pledge today.

Visit their website to take the Clean Water pledge or for more information. Look for Buddy the Clean Water Dog and his sidekick Siggy in upcoming comic strips!

Vonnie Harris is a freelance writer, and operator of Pet Stop Pit Stop pet sitting services of SW WA. She and her brood, Jake and Jessie, both yellow Labs, parrots Pedro (Yellow-Nape Amazon) and Lorali (African Grey) and four endearing chickens reside in Vancouver. Vonnie is “the face of Spot” at many Portland-area pet-related events, and the voice of Spot in social media outlets.