One day, I was out walking our crazy corgi, Daisey. Daisey has her usual spots where she likes to do her business, and since it was chilly, I was hoping she would get right to it so we could quickly retreat to the warmth of the indoors. It had just gotten dark and as I walked down the street, I heard someone call Daisey’s name. I looked around and spotted my three-year-old neighbor waving from the kitchen window! I waved back and told Daisey to say hello.
At that moment, crazy corgi decided to do her thing. I reached into my coat pocket and … no bags. What? I always keep bags in my pocket. How could I not have any?
I darted back to my house to get the bags and ran back to the scene of the crime, dog still in tow. I looked up at the window, hoping little Teddy was still there and could witness this act of great responsibility. He was gone. This means that in the mind of this sweet, impressionable youth, I am one of those people: someone who doesn’t clean up after her dog.
So, I do what any normal, sane person would do. I start talking loudly—to my dog—about my mistake. “Oh, Daisey! Do you believe it? I forgot the bags! I never forget the doggie bags. How silly of me!” Speaking even louder at this point “Thank goodness we live so close so I was able to run home, grab some bags and clean up after you so quickly! I would hate to think anyone would think that I, model citizen that I am, would ever act so irresponsibly!”
Obviously, I was putting on an embarrassing show for my neighbors who might have witnessed Daisey do her thing, followed by our running away.
Unattended dog poop is a huge problem in our neighborhood. I stumble upon surprises all the time, and occasionally step on them, too. Several of our neighbors have signs outside their homes, reminding people to clean up after their dogs.
What is going on? How hard is this to do? Why don’t people do it? It’s common courtesy and such a simple act.
The reality is that not cleaning up after our dogs is more than impolite; it is a health hazard not only to other pets but to the human members of our families. The website Doody Calls (seriously) explains this. “According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pet droppings can contribute to diseases animals pass to humans, called zoonoses. When infected dog poop is deposited on your lawn, the eggs of certain roundworms and other parasites can linger in your soil for years. Anyone who comes into contact with that soil—be it through gardening, playing sports, walking barefoot or any other means—runs the risk of coming into contact with those eggs; especially your dog.”
And dog waste is not a natural fertilizer. You aren’t doing your neighbor’s lawn any good by letting Fido leave a little deposit. In colder climates it can sometimes take close to a year for dog waste to break down.
Since animal waste doesn’t break down, it can end up polluting local waters. Decomposing waste releases nutrients that make algae grow, rendering local rivers and lakes unusable for swimming or boating. So, if you’re thinking that the rain we are expecting tomorrow will take care of what Rex left on the sidewalk, think instead about how what’s left will be washed down a storm drain and eventually end up in our beautiful Maryland waterways.
I didn’t know any of this before I started my research for this article. I thought it was just impolite to leave your dog’s doo laying there on the grass; I was unaware of the risks it poses to other pets, children and the environment.
This is a lot of trouble to go to just to save my reputation as a good citizen in the eyes of a three-year-old kid.