Pet waste is a source of many harmful microorganisms that can be transmitted from the waste to humans if it is not promptly picked up and disposed of. This list includes E. coli, Giardia, Cryptosporidium, Salmonella, Campylobacter, Brucellosis, and roundworm parasites. Many of these microorganisms will last months in the soil, and some up to four years, if not immediately cleaned up from lawns, along trails, in parks or preserves. Children and landscape workers who care for our lawns, gardens, and public areas are most at risk. Studies have shown that dog waste is also a significant source of bacterial and nutrient contamination to streams, especially during the “first flush” from a rain storm which carries the majority of the pollution washing off of lawns and hard surfaces.
To protect your family and to be considerate of your fellow residents and other trail users, please remember to “scoop the poop” with a plastic bag and dispose of it promptly in a public trash can or your own trash receptacle (not your neighbor’s trash can or down storm drains, please!), and wash your hands.
Composting or burying your pet’s waste does not destroy harmful organisms.
Please don’t go barefoot or wear open shoes in dog parks or other areas where dogs frequently deposit waste, and it is not advisable for young children to play in these areas.
Sources: Chester Ridley Crum Watersheds Association; Companion Animal Parasite Council; Snohomish County Public Works Department, Washington State.