Scoop the Poop

Dogs are great. They provide unconditional love, are always happy to see you and are fantastic companions. However here it the butt - you have to clean up their poop. Picking up pet waste is not the most exciting part about having a dog, but responsible pet owners do it.

Women walking a dog in a park
Whatever you do, just don't leave it where your dog dropped it
Most of us can see the sense in clean up dog poop from footpaths and play grounds.  After all, no-one likes to step in it.  But what about open spaces?  Surely its a natural substance and will 'rot down' without causing anyone a problem.  Won't it?

Turns out dog poo is a bigger problem than many of us might think.  Dog poo can habor lots of viruses, bacteria and parasites, including harmful pathogens like e coli, giardia and salmonella.  When we don't clean up after our pets, the poo will inevitably get rained on and make its way into our stormwater, streams and rivers.

Council Dog Control Bylaws have rules which state "when a dog fouls in public the person controlling the dog is responsible for the immediate removal of the faeces".  However rules aren't always followed.  International research indicates about 60% of dog owners clean up after their pets.  Among the excuses offered by the 40 percent who don't clean up: it eventually goes away; too much work; forgot my bag; small dog small waste.

Lets be kind and pick up what our dogs have left behind (even when no-one is watching). 

How to collect and dispose of pet waste

Before you dispose of your dog's poop you first have to pick it up.  A quick internet search and you can find dozens of fascinating inventions for collecting pet waste in the least repugnant way possible.  There is no perfect way to collect or dispose of your dog's waste, however here are some ideas:

 1. Using Bags 
You can give your bread bags, produce bags or paper bags a second life by using them for poop scooping duty.   The other option is buying specialty "doggie bags" on your next grocery run.  Check out the pet isle or visit your local pet store and look for bags labelled "home compostable" for eco-friendly alternatives.

Bags work well when you are out in public spaces.  The simplest approach is to grit your teeth, put your hand inside the bag, pick up the steaming pile, turn the bag inside out and tie the top - in the quickest time possible.  If you don't fancy putting the newly filled poop bag in your pocket, consider taking a hands free poop bag holder with you, or have your pooch carry it for you.  Then go find your nearest public place rubbish bin or take it home. 

2. Poop Scooping tools and gadets
When you are at home, you may want to use handy poop scooping devices, such as a dedicated long handled shovel or commerical pooper scooper to help make it a more pleasant task.  You can also make your own scoop from a large plastic bottle.

3. A note on flushing - Southlanders don't do it

Flushing dog poo, bagged or unbagged down the toilet is not recommended, as it can cause issues with the wastewater treatment process.   Never flush dog poo bags (even if they are labelled flushable or compostable) as they can block your wastewater pipes.    The inconvenience of blocked pipes (and the plumbing bill) is not worth it.

4. Composting or Landfill?
You can compost your dog's waste, but you cannot do it in your normal compost bin.  You need to create a separate pet waste composting system, as dog's waste is not suitable for putting on your edible vegetables due to the risk of the any diseases getting spread around your backyard. Pet Waste Composting systems are available to purchase in Aotearoa or your can get creative and build your own.

There is debate about whether you should compost your dog's waste because of the risk of spreading disease.   We recommend you research what works best for you, and if it means your dog waste goes to Landfill, then rest assured the Southland Regional Landfill is built to a very high environmental standard.

Scooping, bagging, bury or composting?  Every pet owner has to decide what works for them, based on your dog, your lifestyle and your community.  The simple act of cleaning up your dogs waste from your backyard, off city streets, off parks, off beaches and dog parks goes a long way toward protecting public health, and making our community a nicer place to live.