Pet Waste Best Practices

May 26, 2016

Fecal coliform bacteria, an indicator of mammal or bird poop in the water, is found in many local creeks, lakes, and beaches. This bacteria indicates the likely presence of other disease-causing organisms like roundworms, E. coli, giardia, and more. When water is polluted with poop, contact with the water or eating shellfish from the water can make you sick.

One dog’s poop carries enough bacteria to pose a health risk. Whatcom County dogs generate 30,000 pounds of poop every day — the same weight as three African Elephants! One dog can produce enough fecal coliform bacteria in one day to close 15 acres of shellfish beds.

Help make our beaches and parks safe to play in — from your own backyard!

When it rains, disease-causing bacteria in your dog’s poop runs off into drains and ditches and travels miles from your home to surrounding creeks, lakes and beaches. The solution to keeping our waters clean, our families healthy, and our shellfish farmers in business is SO easy — but we all have to be part of the solution.

When disposing of dog poop, DO:
  • Bag it. This helps to contain the poop and prevent contaminated runoff at disposal sites. Re-purpose used plastic bags to be environmentally conscious.
  • Put it in the trash. This is the best way to keep your dog’s poop out of the environment and prevent it from contributing to poor water quality.
  • Pick it up regularly. The rain will make the disease-causing bacteria in your dog’s poop run off into drains and ditches, where it travels to nearby creeks, lakes and beaches. Scoop daily if you can, and weekly at a minimum.
  • Always bring extra bags. If you have an extra bag, why not pick up dog poop to protect our waters? Try planning your walks around nearby trash cans so you can dispose of your used bags quickly.
  • Pay attention. Off-leash dogs can be harder to monitor. Carry a flashlight when you walk at night, and also attach a light to your dog’s collar.
When disposing of dog poop, DON’T:
  • Don’t put dog poop in your compost. Home composts rarely reach hot enough temperatures to kill off harmful bacteria. SSC’s “FoodPlus!” curbside compost program also does not accept dog poop.
  • Don’t bury it or put it in a yard waste pile. Buried dog poop carries the same dangers as a failing septic system. When it rains, the bacteria still causes water quality issues.
  • Don’t let rain wash it away. This is precisely how harmful bacteria ends up in creeks, lakes and beaches. Your dog’s poop could harm children splashing downstream or cause shellfish beds to close.