Many families enjoy spending time outdoors in parks and playgrounds. Unfortunately, while our children enjoy the privilege of playing in safe neighborhoods, they unwittingly are only one step away from a genuine threat.
The danger comes in the form of dog poop left in their path by pet owners who failed to clean up the mess. Dogs love their walks, but we all know what is coming! Whether it happens in the neighbor’s yard, on sidewalks, around the schoolyard, or in the library park, dogs are going to do what they need to do. It only takes a moment for pet owners to pick up what their pets leave behind.
Stepping in dog poop is more than a smelly, messy inconvenience. Even when a dog owner thinks their animal is healthy, the feces they leave behind can contain serious bacteria like giardia and E. coli, or hazardous microorganisms such as parvo, trichinosis, whipworms, hookworms, roundworms, or coccidian.
The potential health risks from leaving dog feces on the ground are formidable. According to Spokane County’s Canines for Clean Water brochure, one gram of dog waste can contain 23 million fecal coliform bacteria. Children are often more susceptible to these bacteria and have not yet learned how to effectively clean themselves up after an unfortunate encounter with dog poop.
These piles of fecal matter do not quickly disappear; it can take a full year for them to decompose fully. And contrary to popular belief, it is not fertilizer! Domestic livestock, yes: their droppings produce nutrient-rich manure because they feed on grass and other vegetation. However, the canine digestive tract is different and produces an entirely different outcome. A dog’s diet consists of meat, which creates highly acidic waste loaded with germs that can carry antibiotic-resistant bacteria detrimental to humans, damage grass, and harm other animals.
It does not matter if a dog does his business off the beaten path where children are not likely to play; rain or snow washes its harmful microorganisms into our storm drains. From there, they get carried to the nearest stream, making the water unsafe – especially for swimming or playing.
It’s The Doggone Law
Considering the health risks, Washington State, Spokane County, and the City of Deer Park all have definitive laws regarding pet clean-up, making it illegal to leave your pet waste on public or private property, with a $250 fine per violation in Deer Park; however, Washington State allows for a $500 maximum penalty.
Since most stores carry dog poop bags as well as bag holders that clip to the leash, dog owners can easily be prepared for the inevitable while enjoying time outside with their pets. Both Swinyard Park and Mix Park have bag dispensers near waste receptacles.
Consider it a Courtesy
Spending a few extra moments to pick up after your dog helps maintain a safe environment for the health of our city, neighbors, and especially for Deer Park’s most precious possession, our children!