America’s canine population dumps enough poop each year to fill 267,500 fully loaded tractor trailers stretching from Seattle to Boston, says Jacob D'Aniello, co-founder and CEOof DoodyCalls, a Virginia-based waste-management company that specializes in picking it up. "The longer dog waste stays on the ground, the more it washes into the water and the environment," he told the NY Daily News in an Earth Day message.
Nationwide, the average dog population is 37 percent of the human population, or about one dog for every three people. America’s mania for canine companionship is job security for DoodyCalls, which currently has 55 franchises in 22 states and collected $4.5 million worth of the mess man’s best friends left behind last year.
In an informative Earth Day poster designed to urge Americans to pick up after their own pooches or consider a service to make sure it is done expediently, D’Aniello informs us that there are currently an estimated 78.2 million dogs living in the U.S. and depositing collectively about 30,000 tons of poop every day.
There is no question that dog feces is a pollutant. Bacteria, worms and other parasites thrive in it and eventually wash into the water supply. But first they slide across yards, sidewalks and into streets. It can be safely assumed that a fair amount are also carried into homes, cars and businesses on the soles of shoes. Parks (especially dog parks) and children’s playgrounds certainly do not escape contamination.
Just two to three days worth of droppings from a population of about 100 dogs can contribute enough bacteria to temporarily close a bay and all watershed areas within 20 miles to swimming and shell fishing, DoodyCalls, advises us. People should avoid walking their pets near streams and other waterways, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It’s one thing to have it on the ground but quite another to be drinking it!
The spread of contamination has a geometric component, Doody reminds us. The longer dog waste stays on the ground the greater the contamination becomes. Unlike other contributors to water pollution; such as, lawn fertilizer, motor oil and rinse water, dog waste can transmit parasites directly to humans. Roundworm is one of the most common parasites found in dog waste and it can remain infectious in contaminated soil and water for years. A recent Center for Disease Control study disclosed that 14 percent of Americans tested positive for roundworms.
Other common parasites thriving in dog poop are heartworms, whipworms, tapeworms, hookworms, parvovirus, Giardia, Salmonella and E. Coli, which are zoonotic, meaning they can infect humans as well as other animals.
There is dog poop in the sky also. According to a study in Applied and Environmental Microbiology on July 29, 2011, a team of researchers found the stuff in the air hovering above Detroit in winter wasn’t smog, as they expected, but bacteria from dog feces. http://www.opposingviews.com/i/society/animal-rights/dog-poop-sky-are-urban-dogs-affecting-air-quality
"It may be that this is just as common in other cities like New York or San Francisco. We just don't know," stated Noah Fierer, an ecology professor at the University of Colorado and one of the authors of the study.
Although cat feces is not mentioned in the Earth Day message nor in the study of airborne particles, this smelly matter (often coveted by dogs) certainly adds to ground contamination and enters water supplies and storm drains. Outdoor, stray or feral cats regularly use beaches, yards, children’s sandboxes, and flower gardens as litter boxes. Feline intestinal parasites can affect marine mammals or infect humans. Exposure to cat feces can also spread protozoal infections, such as Giardia and Toxoplasmosis--especially dangerous if contracted by a pregnant woman or someone with a suppressed immune system.
DoodyCalls recommends that we do our share for the environment and for public health not just on Earth Day, but all year long by picking up after your pet immediately or, if you don't have time, consider hiring a local pet-waste management service.
Add to that washing your hands if you have been handling any animal, including your beloved pets—who frequently do their own grooming before they share their love with you!!