With more than 78,000,000 pet dogs in the United States alone, you can’t go far without seeing, smelling, or stepping in dog poop. In fact, it’s estimated that our canine companions generate about 10 million tons of solid waste each and every year. Trying to safely dispose of that much waste can be a sanitation nightmare. Securing it in a plastic bag and throwing it in the trash is not a solution – it’s just pawning the problem off on a future generation. So how do we safely dispose of dog poop in an environmentally-friendly way?
Can’t We Just Leave It In the Dirt to Biodegrade?
No. It will come as no surprise that animal waste contains pathogens that can make us, our pets and wildlife very ill. Although dog poop will decompose, the pathogens it contains will just be released into the soil or a nearby water supply. Once in a stream or lake, the nutrients in dog waste will feed algae causing large algae blooms. As a result, the algae use up the oxygen supply within that body of water, causing native aquatic populations to die off.
Can I Safely Dispose of Dog Poop by Composting?
Composting dog waste is a viable solution that is relatively safe for the environment, provided it is done correctly. First of all, it should not be composted in your regular family compost pile because it will likely not get hot enough to kill the pathogens. You also don’t want to be putting composted dog waste on your tomatoes or carrots. You can, however, purchase a unit specifically designed to compost dog waste, or you can build your own. Both manufactured and do-it-yourself units work on the same principle. You bury the containment unit in the ground – a safe distance from your vegetable garden or any water source – and it works on the same principles as a septic system.
Can I Safely Dispose of Dog Poop by Flushing It?
Yes, you can safely dispose of dog poop by flushing it. When you flush your toilet, the contents are sent to a wastewater treatment plant for processing. There, the pathogens will be killed and the nutrients will be filtered away before the water is returned to the environment. If your home uses a private septic system instead of a municipal sewer system, the effect is the virtually the same. Depending on the number and size of your dogs, you’ll just want to be sure that your system is large enough to handle the extra waste.
Being a conscientious dog owner means more than regularly taking Fido to the vet. It also means minimizing his environmental impact the same way you do your own. One of the best ways we can do that is to safely dispose of dog poop in an environmentally-friendly way.