Pets make wonderful companions when they walk through our wide open spaces or take a walk around the neighborhood. Spoiler alert: That leisurely walk isn’t so much fun when you’re dodging piles of poop because some other human didn’t pick up after their dog relieved them. Also, it can be harmful to other pets and the environment.
Picking up after your dog is not only a law, but also a common courtesy and your responsibility as a pet owner. According to the City of Albuquerque ordinance website, 9-2-3-8 ANIMAL NUISANCE; DEFECATION; CLEAN UP. “No person shall allow an animal to defecate on public property or on any private property not owned by the owner of the animal without thoroughly removing and disposing of the feces.” It can be tempting to think that if the dog strays a bit off the trail, no one will step on it or run over it with their mountain bike. Or consider pushing the debris from the sidewalk to the street “where it will just disappear.” Another fallacy is that pet waste fertilizes the soil.
Dangers of pet waste
Even if your pet is fully vaccinated, it can still give or receive disease-causing bacteria and parasites in pet waste.
Children and adults can also become infected with disease-causing bacteria and parasites in pet waste.
Humans at risk of:
• Campylobacteriosis: A bacterial infection transmitted by dogs and cats that frequently causes diarrhea in humans.
• Salmonellosis: the most common bacterial infection transmitted to humans by other animals. Symptoms include fever, muscle aches, headache, vomiting, and diarrhea.
• Toxocariasis: Roundworms are usually transmitted from dogs to humans, often without noticeable symptoms, but can cause vision loss, rash, fever, or cough.
• Toxoplasmosis: a parasite transmitted by cats that can cause birth defects if a woman becomes infected during pregnancy. It can also be a problem for people with compromised immune systems.
• Intestinal parasites can be transmitted to people and other pets, including: roundworms (one of the most common parasites found in dog waste and can remain infectious in contaminated soil and water for years), whipworms and hookworms.
Stormwater pollution occurs when pet waste left on streets, yards, walkways, or roadsides is later picked up by stormwater runoff and carried into storm drains or streams. Stormwater is not treated before it reaches the river, and pet waste contributes to poor water quality. To paraphrase a clean water campaign, “if you think picking up dog poop is disgusting, try recreating yourself in the water.”
Wild animals differ
Dog food is a high-protein, processed diet. Wild animals generally eat what they find in their environment and recycle the nutrients that are already there. According to a Popular Science article from May 2022, simply picking up poop removes 97% of all phosphorus, 56% of all nitrogen, and dramatically reduces disease risk.
it’s not fertilizer
Dog waste can burn or kill grass. While cow manure can be composted for gardens and fields, dog waste can cause pollution.
20 tons of ABQ per day
Several articles found that an ecosystem could handle about two dogs per square mile. In many cities there are about 125 dogs per square mile. The City of Albuquerque website estimates that 80,000 dogs reside in the city, generating 20 tons of waste per day.
Take a plastic bag with you when you walk your pet. Parks, open spaces, and many neighborhoods make it easy by having “mutt gloves” readily available. Bring an extra pair to offer to other dog walkers who may not have a bag. Tie up the bag and dispose of it in the trash cans provided in most public places or take it home for disposal.
Help be part of the solution by volunteering for the Mutt Mitt Parks Management Program. Contact the Parks Administration Division (505) 857-8657 for more information.
Mountain bikers who have their dogs running with them should also recognize what to pick up after their dog applies them.
While picking up your pet’s waste can be unpleasant and inconvenient, the negative effects of not doing so are greater. Be a good pet parent and enjoy a nice clean walk with your four-legged friend.