Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Cute, Cuddly Contaminators: Pick up Pet Waste to Prevent Pollution

It’s a cold day in Superior.  Pet owners, you’re probably not looking forward to walking Fido around the block today.  In summer, it’s warm and you can stop to chat with neighbors on your walks.  Winter walks, on the other hand, are cold, terrain can be questionable, and taking the time to scoop poop out of a snow pile seems like a waste when you could be inside drinking cocoa and eating cookies.  Spend the extra few seconds to pick up the gift Fido left on someone else’s lawn.  It’s not only polite, it’s also the law in Superior and important for protecting our water resources.
In the summer, when yards are tended to daily, a big pile of brown stuff will stand out in a lawn of green.  When there’s snow to hide it, it’s easier to forget that pet waste needs to be picked up.  Come spring, you’ll be glad you did though.  When the snow melts, pet waste is carried with the water down the storm drains.  As we’ve previously mentioned, most of the storm drains in Superior go straight to rivers and rivers, then go out to Lake Superior without making a stop at the wastewater treatment plant.  If pet waste is allowed to go along with the snowmelt, imagine what you could see when you’re fishing or swimming.  Yuck!  Even if you can’t see it, evidence of pet waste in our waters is shown through summer beach closings. 
Pet waste carries many diseases and parasites that can be transmitted to people.  When the waste decomposes, it uses up oxygen.  The nutrients in the waste can also cause overgrowth of algae; when algae dies, it also uses up oxygen.  Both of these factors can lead to unhappy aquatic life. 
Many people use grocery bags to pick up pet waste.  There are also several different brands of biodegradable bags available locally.  The City of Superior also has biodegradable pet waste bags conveniently located in the city parks.  So what should you do with the pet waste once you’ve picked it up?  There are a few options.  Flushing it down the toilet will take it to the wastewater treatment plant and allow it to be treated before it is released into the lake.  You can also put it in the trash.  Another option is to bury it, but be sure to keep it away from any food you may have growing in the yard or water sources. 
Thanks for being a responsible pet owner!  For more information, please check out these links:
Wisconsin Beach Health

-Written by Jillian Schubert Edwards

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