It’s a Dirty Job, But Dog Owners Have to Do It

EPA Photo/Kasia Broussalian

By Sophia Kelley

Poop. Since entire blogs have been devoted to the improper handling of pet waste, I think we’re allowed to mention the issue at least once here on Greening the Apple.

The fact is that dealing with waste is one of the unpleasant aspects of becoming a pet owner. Here in New York City, the lack of private yards means that pet waste management often becomes a public issue. Though it is a city law to pick up after your dog, many pet owners get lazy or seem to develop a situational case of ‘poop blindness’ when faced with their own dog’s droppings.

I’ll admit that I had to overcome a little of the gross factor when I first started walking a dog in Brooklyn. Even with the protection of a biodegradable poop bag, it’s certainly not a pleasant task. But you get used to it. Fortunately most dogs can be trained and guided to go to the edge or the curb of the sidewalk. Aesthetically and out of respect for my fellow Brooklynites and pedestrians, I always knew the importance of picking up dog waste. But since coming to EPA, I’ve learned another reason that picking up poop should not be optional – stormwater runoff.

As I mentioned before, we’ve got an old sewer system in this part of the country and when we have heavy rainfall, the system is designed to overflow into our rivers and streams. That means that your dog’s emissions can literally end up in the Hudson River if you don’t dispose of them properly. Even lazy people can agree that nobody wants that.