• Shelby Roberts

Why it's important to Scoop the Poop

Taking walks with your furry friend and watching them frolic over grassy hills is one if the best joys of pet parenthood. But after the fun is had, it's important to clean up after they do their business. Doing so will keep harmful bacteria like E. coli out of our surface waters.

The connection might not be obvious, but there is a direct pathway from pet waste in residential yards to E. coli in our lakes, rivers, and streams. The storm drains on your streets flow right into nearby waterbodies. So when it rains in your yard or along city sidewalks, the bacteria from your pet's waste flows directly into the nearest river or lake without any treatment or filtration.

Most of the lakes and rivers in Scott County--and most lakes and rivers in Minnesota--eventually drain into the Mississippi River. If you think about it, bacteria from your pets waste doesnt just harm water quality in Minnesota; it has the potential to cause problems all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico!

Other Common Misconceptions

Pet waste fertilizes grass. You're right about one thing; pet waste does contain chemicals found in fertilizers. But those chemicals don't always decompose into the soil. They clump in excess and get washed away by rain, which ends up causing harmful nutrient spikes in local lakes. These nutrient spikes cause things like algal blooms and can make lakes unswimmable and unfishable.

Pet waste is just like wildlife waste. While the chemical makeup of your dogs waste might be similar to the waste of other meat eaters, there is one major difference between the two: we cant control wildlife. You can control your pet. There's no excuse to not do your part.

Pet waste can be composted. While this is true for grass-eating animals like cows and horses, dogs are a little different. Since dogs eat meat, their waste contains parasites, bacteria, and viruses that are not readily destroyed during the composting process. Those harmful pathogens can be passed on to humans. The best thing to do is dispose of the waste in the garbage.

Tips to take with you

  • Be prepared before walks. Don't forget to take a plastic bag with you, or attach a small doggie bag carrier to your leash so you always have one.

  • Never toss your pets waste in a storm drain!

  • Avoid letting your dog do their business within 200 feet of a water body.

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