The Scoop on Poo-lution

April 20, 2019 – Hannibal, MO – Many people have incorrect beliefs about dog waste and the dangers it poses to your health and our environment, such as “If I just leave it out in the yard for a while, it will go away and not hurt anything.” Another false belief is that dog poop is “fertilizer for the lawn.” Neither could be further from the truth. Keep reading for eye opening facts about dog waste.

1. Dog fecal matter is a major of stormwater pollution. If not picked up and disposed of properly, dog poop left on sidewalks, lawns, and trails eventually liquefies during rain events and ends up in our storm drains, or directly in our local waters. The City of Hannibal as record of at least 510 dogs living within the city in 2019. Dog produce an average of 0.75 pounds of poop a day, which creates around 380 pounds of waste daily that could harm the environment if not disposed of properly.

2. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirms that hookworms, ringworms, tapeworms and Salmonella can be spread by contact with infected dog waste. When dog poop is left to decay, after a long time (it can take over one year for dog waste to decompose) the poop may no longer be visible, but the eggs from these parasites can linger for years in the soil – leaving your family and your pets vulnerable to serious infection. Furthermore, just one gram of dog waste can contain as many as 23 million fecal coliform bacteria, which can seep into groundwater and spread salmonella and giardia. This poses a hazard to your pets, your family, and your landscape.

3. Dog poop is NOT fertilizer for your lawn and shrubs. Due to their high-protein diet, dog waste is highly acidic and will burn your grass, creating brown patches. Additionally, driving over it with your lawn mower does not chop it up and make it go away. In fact, it makes the situation worse by spreading the waste around your yard in smaller, less visible pieces; causing you, your children, and your pets to accidentally step in, bringing it into your home.

4. Leaving pet excrement on public grounds or in right of ways is illegal. You can find out more by reading City Code 1988, § 4-84; Ord. No. 4182, § 3, 7-3-2001. If you are out and about, take a bag with you and dispose of the waste in a sanitary manner by placing the bag in a trash receptacle. There are also pet waste stations in the downtown area for citizens to use, including Cardiff Hill Overlook Park, and at the Dempsey Dog Park.

To learn more about stormwater and pollution prevention, visit the HBPW’s website here.