POULSBO — Pet poop. “Your dog. Your doodie. No excuses!”
OK, it’s not a pollution problem on the order of, say, runoff from streets and highways (“auto poop,” if you will). But dog poop does pollute.
It is estimated that America’s 83 million pet dogs produce some 10.6 million tons of poop a year, according to LiveScience. In case you’re interested, that’s enough dog poop to fill a line of semi-trailer trucks stretching from Seattle to Boston. Kitsap area dogs contributed 109.5 tons to that total in 2015, according to the West Sound Outreach Group. And dogs who poop on beaches have been accused of causing beach closures because of the bad bacteria in their doo-doo.
So, you dog owners do good when you “doo your bit with the Mutt Mitt.”
Here is the rest of the straight poop on dog waste disposal in Kitsap County:
Participants in the outreach group’s Mutt Mitt program include Bainbridge Island, Bremerton, Port Orchard, Poulsbo and the U.S. Navy. There were 4o2 Mutt Mitt Stations in the program at the end of 2015.
In 2015, stickers stating “scoop it, bag it, trash it” replaced the phrase “degradable pick-up mitt” on the 402 stations.
A small trial was conducted to see whether brightly colored poop bags were disposed of properly more often than dark colored bags. Short answer: Yes. (From personal observation, I can tell you it’s a lot harder for a dog owner to abandon a colorful bag full of pet poop alongside the path without other people noticing.)
Fortunately, 54 percent of dog owners report that they always pick up their pet poop in the park, according to a 2015 Kitsap Public Works — Stormwater Division report. People’s biggest excuse for not picking up (23 percent) was that they were “unprepared.”
Other excuses were that their dog “pooped in an area where people wouldn’t walk” (17 percent), and “the dog was sick ” (5 percent).
Another reason for not picking up was an absence of convenient trash cans.
For some reason, once people pick up their pet’s poop with a Mutt Mitt, they don’t want to carry it around with them, perhaps to avoid embarrassing situations like having say, “Hey, I’d love to shake hands with you, but my hands are full with my dog’s leash and his poop.”
To help educate the public, in 2015 the outreach group purchased a Poop Toss game, which is shared among the jurisdictions. “The game is used at outreach events and teaches players the appropriate way to dispose of pet waste.” (No doubt these players were the same people who couldn’t figure out what “degradable pick-up mitt” meant either.)
In all seriousness, I don’t want to pooh-pooh this project. This is a good program and the good news is that it is estimated that over 97 percent of pooch owners clean up their pets’ poop at least part of the time in our parks and public places.
Way to go, Mutt Mitters!
— Terryl Asla is a reporter for the North Kitsap Herald. Contact him at email@example.com