Millions of people in America grew up thinking dog waste was basically good for plants. Alas, scientists have discovered it was all wishful thinking. Couldn’t be further from the truth. Emerging in the 1990s, technical advances in DNA testing enabled scientists to begin to trace the origin of fecal matter in lakes and streams… and behold, the culprit wasn’t any of us, but poor old Rover.
The modern backyard with a little patch of grass next to the swimming pool is a lousy sewage treatment facility. Nor does composting kill the smorgasbord of harmful pathogens in dog waste. Bacteria and viruses can thrive and live on to re-attack humans and pets. Fecal coliform bacteria are just one of a whole suite of pathogens that can live in a compost pile.
Major cause of pollution
If you thought China, Peru or Russia was polluted, perhaps you should first check your backyard. With 1.2 million dogs in North Central Texas, that’s the sewage equivalent of a city the size of Dallas with no toilets. Local dogs produce some 900,000 pounds of sewage per day, much of it contaminating the environment, especially groundwater, area lakes and the Trinity River.
Storm water carries bacteria from dog waste into lakes and streams through storm drains.
Leaving sewage in your backyard is going the way of blood letting and other not so smart practices held over from more primitive times. A waste treatment facility or landfill is set up to contain fecal matter. Your backyard is not.
On your grass, in your carpet and on your feet
Harmful organisms that can be transmitted from pet waste to children and adults can persist for on the ground for weeks. Fecal coliform and other bacteria found in dog waste can make people sick, leading to breathing problems, diarrhea, blindness and worse. Some of the diseases that can be spread to humans from pet waste include,
- Campylobacteriosis (a bacterial infection frequently causing diarrhea in humans)
- Salmonellosis (the most common bacterial infection transmitted to humans -- symptoms include fever, muscle aches, headache, vomiting, and diarrhea)
- Toxocarisis (roundworms transmitted from animals to humans. Symptoms include vision loss, rash, fever, or cough)
- Fecal coliform causes dysentery, hepatitis, typhoid fever and ear infections
- Roundworm, giardiasis, tuberculosis, gastroenteritis and cryptosporidiosis
When you consider how many children go barefoot and play in the grass, the awareness of “poop” it’s impossible to think of poop in any benign way. The facts of sewage are blatantly unhealthy.