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Pet waste is raw sewage that can spread disease. Pet waste can contain disease-causing organisms, including roundworms, ringworms, tapeworms, hookworms, Giardia, Salmonella, E. coli, Cryptosporidium, Toxoplasma and Parvovirus. Even when pet waste looks like it has washed away, many of these pathogens can survive for days, weeks, months or sometimes even years in soil and water waiting for a host.
People and pets can come into contact with pathogens found in pet waste while playing in grass, walking barefoot, playing sports, gardening, swimming, fishing or boating. Children are most susceptible since they often play in the dirt and put things in their mouths or eyes. Infections from pet waste bacteria often cause fever, muscle aches, headache, vomiting and diarrhea in humans.
High levels of fecal bacteria can also cause closures in commercial shellfish beds and spread illnesses to pets and wildlife. In addition, the nutrients in pet waste can create harmful algal blooms in lakes that turn the water green and cloudy, use up dissolved oxygen, kill fish and other marine life, and make the water unappealing for recreation
When you're outside on a walk and your dog poops, it's your responsibility to do three things:
And when your pet poops in your own yard, don't let it linger. Pick up pet waste right away if it's going to rain (or is already raining) and pick it up from your entire yard at least once a week regardless of the weather forecast. An easy solution to having to scoop, bag and trash it every time in your yard is to put out a 5-gallon bucket with a liner and lid so you can scoop the poop every time and once you're ready, take your bagged poop to your trash can.
We certainly want to reduce our waste stream to landfills. When it comes to pet waste, however, there is currently no better alternative. There is nothing “natural” about 169,900 dogs concentrated in an area the size of Snohomish County’s urban and suburban areas. Native wildlife populations do not reach that density. The question, then, is how we deal with the waste produced by this unnatural concentration of animals. Burial, composting, waste digesters, and letting it lay in yards contaminate water and jeopardize human and pet heath. Flushing is impractical for most people. At some point in the future, commercial composting technology may be sufficient to treat pet waste, enabling curbside pickup along with yard waste. Until then, landfilling is the best alternative for pet waste. Landfills are designed to safely handle substances such as dog waste, cat litter, and dirty diapers. Yards are not. Scoop the poop, bag it, and place it in the trash.
No. Composting doesn't remove the hazardous pathogens from pet waste and can contaminate the rest of your compost pile. Most home compost piles don't reach temperatures that are hot enough to kill the hazardous pathogens. Killing E. coli and Salmonella requires extended exposure at 140-degree temperatures. Giardia can survive temperature extremes, chlorination, and drying. Cryptosporidium, Leptospira, Salmonella, and E. coli can all survive for months in feces or soil, and roundworms can survive for up to four years in soil.
Most commercial compost processors also don't reach a temperature high enough to kill the hazardous pathogens, and they don't accept pet waste because it can contaminate the rest of the composted material.
Yes. Like most other cities in the Puget Sound area, Everett has a municipal code that prohibits leaving pet waste on public property or on another person's private property or not carrying the necessary equipment to remove said fecal matter. Violators are subject to a $250 fine per incident when witnessed by the City's Animal Control Officer.
Learn more about the scooping laws in the Everett Municipal Code EMC 6.04.070 and EMC 9.06.055.