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The Scoop on Poop (the canine variety)

It’s springtime and Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority staff have the wonderful task of walking our trails now that the snow is gone and finding, yes, you guessed it, massive amounts of dog waste. We find it embarrassing when we receive complaints about this, but honestly it is not our responsibility, we repeat “NOT” our responsibility to pick up after our guests, two-legged or four-legged in nature. We are finding this ‘waster’ bagged, unbagged, flung far afield and sometimes on display in our trees like Christmas decorations.

Dog waste left behind is not only obnoxious and gross, but also dangerous because it makes its way to our local creeks—where your drinking water comes from. Yes, every creek in our jurisdiction makes its way to Lake Ontario, which is where most urban dwellers in our urban watersheds, here in Durham Region anyway, get their drinking water from.

More people + more dogs + more new dog owners = more poop

So, we are puzzled and wanted to reach out to dog owners who visit our Conservation Areas to find out why we are experiencing this phenomenon, which has become so much worse during the pandemic. We’ve done some math and it looks something like this:

More people + more dogs + more new dog owners = more poop

We need you to get your bark on and help us figure out why our signage, regulations, legislation and fines are not solving the problem. Please answer these questions to find out what kind of dog owner you are or where you stand on the scoop on poop, but do watch where you are stepping! 😉

(Incidentally, if you don’t like the use of the word poop in this blog, then feel free to replace it as you read with any of the following synonyms: dirt, doo-doo, dropping, dung, excrement, excreta, feces, ordure, scat, slops, soil, waste, stool, guano, manure, sewage, spoor. Who knew there were so many options?)

One other thing, just so we are all on the same playing field (with no poop, of course), the definition of dog poop is “solid matter discharged from a dog’s alimentary canal”. Again, just to be clear.

Okay, let’s get started. Please answer yes (Y) or no (N) to the following five excuses (that are based on the responses we get from our Conservation Area visitors who get caught in the act of leaving their dog’s poop behind):

1. Dog poop is natural Y or N

2. Picking up dog poop is gross Y or N

3. It’s not the law Y or N

4. It’s just my dog; that shouldn’t cause a problem Y or N

5. I forgot my poop bags… again Y or N

If you answered ‘no’ (N) and pick up your pet’s poop, we are blessed, you are blessed, and your pup is lucky to have you as a best friend. We look forward to your next visit to our Conservation Areas!

If you answered ‘yes’ (Y) to any of above ‘excuses’ of how you see dog poop, then you need to continue reading.

  1. Dog poop is not ‘natural’, especially in the quantities that are generated by our pets, and it harms the environment and threatens public health.

  2. Yes, it is gross, but it’s your pet; you signed up for a long-term relationship that includes all sorts of responsibilities. Babies’ diapers are gross, too, but as parents we take the bad with the good. Would you leave your used baby diapers on your lawn? Of course not, so please don’t leave your dog poop in our Conservation Areas. Incidentally, we do find used baby diapers in our Conservation Areas, too, but that’s another blog topic for another day.

  3. In our Conservation Areas, it is illegal to not pick up after your dog and remove its’ waste, to dispose of at your home. Nothing more to say on that one.

  4. It’s not just your dog. The sheer numbers are rather frightening; while we don’t’ include dogs in our population census, estimates show dog populations for 2018 in Ontario increased to 8.2 million, up from 7.6 million in 2016 (Canadian Animal Health Institute, 2019). Our human population in Ontario was 14.57 million in 2019. That means that roughly half of Ontario residents own a dog.

  5. Forgetting your pet’s poop bags is no excuse. There are so many ways you can ensure you bring the bags with you on your walks in our Conservation Areas. There is no shortage of plastic bags in our world and lots of gadgets that can be fastened to your dog’s leash and/or collar to carry them. (For example:

  6. And another thing: in our Conservation Areas, your dog must be leashed at all times and on a leash no more than two metres (six feet) in length.

Raising a stink – facts about your dog’s poop!

  • Dog poop on the ground takes at least one year to break down completely. When it decomposes it releases lots of nitrogen in the surrounding grass and soil which results in that unsightly brown grass or burn, and soil pollution.

  • There is such a thing as a dog waste compost bin, designed to collect your poop in biodegradable bags. Now that is an excrement idea, don’t you think? (Here are some ideas:

  • Unlike wild animals that wander freely and disperse their poop over expansive acreage, pet owners, especially in urban areas, tend to frequent many of the same locales, trails, and dog parks, thereby concentrating the problem.

  • On average, a dog excretes between 0.5 and 0.75 pounds of waste per day, depending on your dog’s size, of course. Our math equation is as follows:

  • 8.2 million dogs x .5 pounds = 4.1 million pounds of dog poop created every day in Ontario.

  • Dog poop contains nasty pathogens, like giardia, salmonella, and E. coli.

  • Other dogs eat dog poop that is not picked up (yep and blech!). That could result in an expensive vet bill and even more reason to always keep your dog on its’ two-metre (six-foot) leash.

  • There is no such thing as the dog-doo fairy to spirit away the dog poop your pooch leaves behind.

So, we have two options here from our perspective: (a) Pick up the excrement, preferably with a biodegradable waste bag, tie it shut and place it in garbage destined for a landfill. If you don’t like the smell in your car or backpack, dedicate a container with a resealable lid. Sorry, there is no other option, or plan (b). Return to plan (a).

Hope to see you on the trails with your pet’s leash actually attached to your dog, and some dog poop bags, ready and waiting. Thank you for your cooperation and caring.

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