Hey there, folks! I had quite the eye-opening experience while strolling through one of our beloved local parks with my furry friend this week. I couldn’t help but notice the staggering amount of unattended doggy business scattered all around. I’m talking about 10 to 15 “deposits” on paths, grass, you name it. It was a bit gross and definitely distracting for both my pup and me. The craziest part? The council had set up doggy doo bins just a stone’s throw away – they even supplied bags. Madness!
But, let’s get real here – how much of this stuff is out there? Last year in the US, it was estimated that a whopping 10 million tonnes of dog waste were left in public places. That’s a heap of poo, and you can bet New Zealand has its fair share too. Now, we all know we’re supposed to pick up after our furry pals, but those fines – around $200 to $300 – are hardly enforced, as far as I know.
Now, let’s talk plastic. We’re all more conscious about the environment, and many places have ditched single-use plastic bags for shopping. So, picking up doggy doo with a plastic bag feels a bit, well, wrong. In some countries, it’s even illegal! I’ve had debates with friends about whether leaving it on the ground might be better for the planet. Spoiler alert: it’s not.
So, is leaving it on the ground a better option? Nope, not at all. Doggy doo, thanks to our carnivorous pals, packs a punch with high levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, and a cocktail of nasty viruses and bacteria. A single gram can contain up to 23 million bacteria, some of which can spread to humans – yikes! In the US, it’s classified as a harmful pollutant, right up there with insecticides and oils.
But where does it all end up? When left on the ground, it eventually gets washed into our water systems. Recent US studies found that 20-30% of bacteria in urban water storage came from dog waste. Two days’ worth from 100 dogs could close a beach and all water areas within 20 km. Not good news for our aquatic friends, and it’s happening right here in New Zealand.
Now, some places have taken this problem to the extreme. In Israel and parts of Ireland, they’ve gone CSI on us, collecting doggy DNA through saliva samples from registered pet dogs. Refusing could result in fines or worse. Poop found on the sidewalk gets analyzed and DNA-tested. If they find a match, you could be slapped with a hefty fine – up to $5000! Talk about doggy detectives!
But what about disposal? Using compostable bags seems like a great idea, but it can create problems down the line. Most bagged dog doo ends up in landfills, including the compostable ones. They decompose quickly, releasing all those nasties into the landfill. Landfills aren’t designed for composting, folks. There are a few composting programs out there, but we need more.
Some places, like Toronto and San Francisco, are thinking outside the poop bag. They’re turning dog waste into energy! Giant anaerobic digesters break down the waste and produce energy. Toronto even built an underground methane digester under a dog park that can handle 200 dogs’ worth of poo a day. San Francisco plans to do the same for the whole city!
So, with more and more pups joining the ranks in New Zealand, it’s high time we invest in eco-friendly ways to deal with our doggy doo. Let’s keep our parks clean and our planet green – and remember, scoop that poop! 🐾💩