Picking up after your pet is one of the many responsibilities we assume when deciding to become a full-fledged pet owner. Sure, it’s arguably the worst part of owning a pet and many of us have fallen guilty to simply leaving it behind once or twice. I mean, what’s the harm in that, right? Doesn’t waste just decompose? Well, it’s actually a bit more complicated than that.
Yes, we know pet waste is ugly, smelly, and plain gross, but the potential health risks unattended waste presents far outweighs the “icky factor”. Surely every dog owner out there has turned a blind eye or two, but next time your four-legged companion answers nature’s call, consider the following facts.
There Are Diseases in Waste!
As you more than likely know, pet waste contains harmful diseases and viruses that can pose great threats to young children, puppies, and other animals. As a hotbed for cell production, pet feces can host a number of concerning threats like Salmonella, Coronavirus, Roundworms, and Hookworms. Nasty intestinal parasites like Giardia can also be easily spread through contact with fecal matter.
And don’t think that just because you stay away from public parks, this can’t affect you. Even if your pooch does their business in your own backyard, undisposed waste can still harm children and other dogs. Hookworm eggs tend to get deposited through fecal waste, and the larvae can puncture through the skin on the bottom of your feet.
Young, unvaccinated puppies are also at great risk of catching parvovirus, a germ often found in pet waste. Infected dogs have been known to “shed” the virus through defecation long after their supposedly cured, which means the next pup that comes along is in potential danger.
Beware of Rainfall
Perhaps even more concerning is how leftover pet waste can pollute our water systems. Natural rainfall literally washes away pet waste into drainage systems which then get deposited into water reservoirs. This is especially concerning for rural areas that see much greater rainfall activity, or mountainous regions where water tends to get funneled into the same area.
Studies have indicated that nearly 41% of Americans fail to pick up their pet’s waste. That’s a staggering number, considering somewhere around 85 million families have claimed to own a pet in the last year!
But What’s a Good Solution?
The best solution to avoid leftover pet waste would be fostering a better culture and environment that supports responsible waste management. Provide more bins and bags at public, pet-friendly locations and install local legislation that penalizes owners for not cleaning up after their furry friends.
While we can only hope public health and safety organizations can find the means to do this for parks and reserves, those of us at home, running a pet daycare center or veterinary office, can start now!
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