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Dog’s Eye View: Dog poop is toxic waste

Dog's Eye View Laura Tyler

Dog's Eye View Laura Tyler

Editor’s note: This column was originally published in summer 2016. It is being repeated to bring our awareness forward this summer in an ongoing attempt to protect our environment and valley.

Most of us are environmentally conscious. We recycle, leave no footprint when we camp, take our own bags to the grocery store and purchase environmentally friendly products. We work at respecting Earth and preserving our planet for future generations. On top of that, we are critically aware of large-scale contamination and the effect of oil spills on our water quality. The good news is that more and more people are following the tenets of environmental awareness every day, and grand scale corporations are being held accountable for contaminating our environment.

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Laura Tyler

Dog's Eye View

This weekly column about dog training publishes on Fridays in the Steamboat Today. Read more columns here.

But there is one pollutant that seems to slip under the radar for most people, and this pollutant is multiplying at an alarming rate. Water quality is highly affected by this product as snow melts and our waterways increase flow with spring runoff. Our parks and trails are increasingly polluted as this product is leached into the ground. This toxic material seeps into the ground, releasing dangerous pathogens our waste water systems are not designed to filter.

Our parks and recreational waterways are becoming increasingly contaminated. One gram of this contaminant contains 23 million bacteria, including campylobacteriosis, toxocarisis and cysticerosis, and salmonellosis, coccidia e.coli, giardia and parvovirus are among the diseases and viruses that can be spread by this toxic waste.

There are studies by both the EPA and the CDC supporting this information. According to the EPA, this contaminant is as toxic to the environment as chemical and oil spills and is the number 1 cause of water pollution.

Guess what folks? It’s dog poop. Every person who thinks dog feces breaks down into a good fertilizer is misinformed. We all grew up thinking this, but science is telling us a different story. We can control this pollutant by simply bagging up our dogs’ waste and depositing it in a trashcan. This is our only way to contain the spread of contamination to our planet.

When I first started research for this article, one of the questions I asked friend and National Park Ranger Kathy Krisko was, “Exactly when and why did the National Park Service prohibit dogs on the trails in National Parks, and what caused this?” She told me that pet waste is only part of the issue, but it all adds up.

Krisko shared this information: “I know that, in the NPS, loose dogs were considered to be as much an issue as the dog poop, because they chase wildlife, frighten other people who are hiking, misbehave around horses and other dogs and get bitten by snakes, coyotes and other animals and require rescue. We used to have a ‘Dog Card’ that said: ‘Keep your dog on a leash: 1) for the safety of your dog; 2) for the safety of other people; 3) for the safety of wildlife; 4) because it’s the law!’”

Bottom line: We can do something about this. Leaving dog poop on the ground is not recycling. It’s a pollutant, and it’s damaging our environment.

We live in such a great dog friendly environment. More and more people have dogs, and that’s wonderful. The down side is, the numbers of people who do not clean up after their dogs is also multiplying. We have to take a stand here. Let’s make our community the cleanest dog town in the United States.

Laura Tyler is a certified professional dog trainer with more than 25 years of experience. She has earned associate certification through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She owns Total Teamwork Training LLC here in Northwest Colorado. For more information, visit totalteamworktraining.com.

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