Sh**t, scat, poo-poo, dookie, feces, crap, dog logs or my personal Pittsburgh favorite âCacaâ,â¦.whatever you want to call it, everyone agrees itâs disgusting and no one likes to have to handle it. But whatâs even more disgusting, and I think youâll agree, is poop in our streams, rivers, and drinking water. Consider these poop facts:
- Americaâs 83 million pet dogs produce 10.6 tons of poop every year. (Thatâs a lot of doo doo.)
- Only 60% of dog owners pick up after their pets!
- A single gram of poop contains an estimated 23 million bacteria.
Pet waste contributes to poor water quality by adding harmful bacteria and nutrients to local waters. These bacteria lead to pathogens that pose public health risks. Fecal coliform bacteria, aka poop, can spread serious diseases like Giardia, Salmonella, e coli, Campylobacteriosis. For example, a Campylobacteriosis outbreak in 17 states this year affected 113 people. The bacterial infections proved to be resistant to seven different antibiotics!
Nutrients from poo-poo, mainly nitrogen and phosphorus, contribute to excessive algae growth which in turn robs water of dissolved oxygen, creating low water quality and unhealthy habitats for wildlife. Our fish friends wonât be able to survive!
So whatâs âtragicâ about improperly disposed waste? In 1968, scientist Garret Hardin coined the term tragedy of the commons to determine what happens in groups when individuals act in self-interest. Hereâs the scenario: There is a communal pasture shared by a number of herders. Some realized that they could add an animal to the pasture and reap great rewards for themselves. The tragedy is that the pasture is eventually ruined by overuseÂ and the entire group and their herds are affected. Many environmental issues fit this notion because they are shared resources, provided by Earth. When one person neglects to clean up after their dog, we all suffer from poor water quality, compromised ecological systems, and public health risks. So the next time you pick up your dogs smelly dookie, remember that you are doing your part to avert the tragedy of the commons! Thatâs something the entire Nine Mile Run community can be thankful for.