It is important that you clean up after your pet, not only to keep your community and common area clean, but the following reasons:

Why is Pet Waste in Stormwater Runoff a Problem?

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, pet waste in the stormwater system can be a major source of bacteria, excess nutrients and viruses in our rivers and streams.  Stormwater runoff picks up pet waste and other pollutants in its path as it flows towards storm pipe systems or natural swales.

This untreated stormwater then continues to flow to our lakes, streams, rivers and ponds we use for recreational activities, such as swimming and fishing.  This same runoff eventually flows to the Potomac River, which, after treatment, is the source of drinking water for the Town of Leesburg.

All Sewers are NOT Created Equal!

Storm sewers and sanitary sewers are not the same!  Sanitary sewers carry waste water from inside buildings to a facility where it is treated before being released.  Storm sewers carry runoff (rain water or snow melt) directly into ponds, creeks and streams. Wherever this water flows, it takes along something with it – pollutants.

So What’s so Bad About Pet Waste?

Pet waste contains a variety of disease causing organism such as Salmonella, Giardia Lamblia and Fecal Coliform.  These organisms can cause humans to become quite ill if they into contact with or with water that has been polluted by them.  Pet waste that is not disposed of properly carries these contaminants into our waterways.

In addition, pet waste is full of nutrients, which when carried into waterways; these nutrients can cause algae blooms.  As they die, algae deplete water of oxygen, effectively suffocating plant and aquatic life.

Grassy areas also suffer from pet waste not being cleaned up.  Parks, trails, your own back yard and even the common area in your community can be damaged by pet waste – because of the different nutrients in the waste of domestic pets, unlike waste from wild animals, pet waste does not biodegrade as quickly.

Ok – So What Can I Do About This?

  • Pick up after your pet every single time.  Check your pet store for products that make picking up easy, such as pooper scoopers, disposable pet waste bags and leashes with special pet waste bag holders.
  • Use your pet stations located throughout your community.  They take the time to stock them with pet waste bags for you.
  • Throw away pet waste in the garbage; never wash it into the gutter or storm drain.
  • You can also flush pet waste down the toilet just as you would human waste.
  • Carry extra bags with you in your car, your jackets you wear when walking your pet, so you are prepared when you travel or walk your pet.
  • Remember to keep your yard clean as well – pet waste in yards is just as harmful as pet waste in a park or on a trail.
  • Remind your fellow pet owners to do their part in picking up after their pets.  Look for pet waste cleanup stations in parks and neighborhood association managed areas.

 Fast Facts:

 In 2001, there were an estimated 6.5 million dogs in the United States.  That is 6.3 billion pounds of poop per year!  It would take a scoop 300’ wide and 800’ deep to dispose of that much poop!

Many of our local waterways do not meet local and state water quality bacteria standards for recreational use.  Pet waste is one of the components of non-point source pollution that contributes to our water quality problems, and is one that each of us can help correct.

Every time it rains the potential exists for thousands of pounds of pet waste to wash down storm drains and into streams, rivers and lakes.  If not disposed of properly, pet waste flows directly into nearby streams and creeks without being treated at wastewater treatment facilities.

Pet waste also contains nutrients that encourage excess weed and algae growth.  This water then becomes cloudy and green – unattractive for swimming, boating and fishing.  Excess nutrients are a major cause of water quality decline.

When pet waste is washed into lakes and streams, the waste decays, using up oxygen and sometimes releasing ammonia.  Low oxygen levels and ammonia combined with warm temperatures can kill fish and other aquatic life.

Benefits of Scooping the Poop on a Regular Basis

Town of Leesburg Code:

Section 4-35(8) of the Town code requires pet owners to immediately remove pet waste from public areas or risk a fine of up to $250.00!

Anyone that has ever owned a pet, or knows someone that has, understands the obvious reasons why it is important to clean-up after your pet.  Pet waste is unattractive to look at.  It smells horrible.  It attracts annoying insects and pests.  It makes an awful mess when someone (or something) steps in it and tracks it through your house, and it is downright repulsive to have to deal with, in any capacity, especially if you have neighbors who let their dogs poop on your lawn and don’t clean up!

Simply put – everyone agrees that pet waste needs to be cleaned up, so here is some additional information why.

  • Pet waste is a health hazard.  That’s right.  Pet waste left lying on the ground can actually make you, your family, and your pets, get sick.  It can cause this because animal waste, especially dog waste, can contain and transmit parasites such as roundworm, hookworm, coccida, tapeworm and whipworm to name a few.  When infected dog waste is left lying on the ground, the eggs of these parasites enter the soil and live there – for a long time.  Then, when humans (or pets) come in contact with that soil, they also come in contact with parasitic eggs, thus potentially starting an infection.  Young children that play on the ground, teens or adults playing a pick-up football game, or gardeners tending their soil are all prone to coming in contact with the infested soil.
  • Pet waste left to accumulate is a big contributor to ground water pollution.  It washes down our streets, through our storm drains, eventually making its way to our lakes, streams and eventually the ocean, carrying all of the parasites, bacteria, viruses and fungi along with it.  The result is increased bacteria counts in our ground water supplies, and viral infections and skin rashes for swimmers and outdoor sportsman alike.
  • And finally, canine waste is poisonous to lawns.  It will kill your grass, not grow it or “fertilize” it.  It is protein-based matter, not vegetative-based matter like horse manure is.  Because of this, it will take more than one year for canine waste to biologically decompose when left lying on the ground, and as it does, it drags all of the above mentioned parasites into the soil with it where they will linger for years. Dog poop is NOT good fertilizer. It’s toxic to your lawn! The high nutrient concentration in dog poop will burn and discolor the grass, creating “hot spots”.
  • Nearly two decades ago, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classified pet waste as a dangerous pollutant in the same category as toxic chemicals and oil.

So there you have it.  Just when you thought it was safe to venture out into your backyard again, or take the kids over to the neighbors for play group, you have these other health related concerns to consider.  Pet-owners that properly provide for the regular, recurring clean-up of their beloved pets nasty “business”, either by doing it themselves or by hiring a professional, will minimize the likelihood of any of these circumstances ever affecting themselves, their family and friends, and just as importantly, the blasted pet that started the darn thing in the first place.