Pet Waste Etiquette Is a Real Doozy in Many Neighborhoods
Let’s all admit it. Nothing says hello better than stepping in a pile of dog poo. Especially for those of us who pick up after our pets who haven’t yet mastered the art of using the half bath downstairs. But for those of us who are responsible pet owners (and polite neighbors), what is the proper etiquette for disposing of pet waste as you’re walking through a neighborhood? Recently on Facebook, a 5th District neighborhood used their page to shed light on their pet waste likes and dislikes. Several comments applaud dog owners...almost. It seems some owners are prone to pick up after their pets, only to leave the bagged waste behind on the curb.
This is not an option, as stated in the following ordinance:
Sec. 4-23.1. Responsibility of owner to remove animal excreta from waste removal areas. (1) The custodian of every animal shall remove any excreta deposited by his/her animal (s) within the urban service boundary on public walks, streets, recreation areas or private property belonging to another. (2) Any excreta not removed in violation of subsection (1) above is declared to be a public nuisance. (3) Any person violating any provision of this section shall, upon conviction thereof by a court of competent jurisdiction, be fined not more than fifty dollars ($50.00) for each violation.
For a full list of ordinances that apply to “Animals and Fowl,” click here.
But, what should you do while on a walk with Sparky and you have in hand a bag of “excreta” that you’d like to dispose of quickly? Opinions vary on the neighborhood’s Facebook page, but the general consensus seems to be that if the bag is tied tightly, it’s okay to use a neighbor’s Herbie, but do tie it tightly to avoid receptacle contamination. According to Tracy Thurman, Director of Waste Management, “Each waste container has a serial number that geocodes it to an individual address, and it is the property owner’s responsibility to keep those containers clean.”
Thurman did point out that it is safe to put pet waste in a Lenny, which many residents use for yard waste. (Call LexCall 311 if you’d like to order one.) However, the waste can’t be bagged, so unless you wash your hands an awful lot, this disposal method probably isn’t for you on your morning walk. Do note that it is completely acceptable to clean up after your pet via the public “Pitch In” stations that are located in city parks and public areas.
The bottom line is that no one wants to clean up a mess they didn’t make. Be courteous and considerate. If you need another reason, just think of where that waste goes if left to disintegrate into the ground. That’s right: Your watershed. Pollutants from improperly disposed pet waste may be washed into storm drains by rain. Storm sewers usually drain directly into our lakes and streams, carrying many pollutants along with the water. When pet waste is washed into lakes or streams the waste decays, using up oxygen and sometimes releasing ammonia. Low oxygen levels and ammonia combined with warm temperatures can kill fish. Pet waste also carries diseases, which makes water unsafe for swimming or drinking. So please, clean up after your pet!
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