BY LEAH HOWARD, DNRT LAND STEWARD
The worst thing about walking a dog is picking up its poop and carrying the smelly bag throughout the duration of your walk. Usually it’s the whole walk because, if your dog is like mine, it poops at the beginning of the trail out of sheer excitement of being outside. I do not enjoy picking up dog poop and I admit for years I did not, until I recently started to maintain trails on land trust properties. Then I encountered my worst nightmare: hitting a fresh pile of dog poop hidden behind tall grass as I weed whack along the trail. Internal shudders!
I do not enjoy being covered head to toe in dog poop. It does not smell nice and it tastes awful. Yes, sadly some of it lands on my lips. Please, rescue me from my living nightmare and pick up your dog poop!
After encountering my first spray of dog poop, I did some research on dog poop to make sure I was not going to die from ingesting it. To my dismay, I learned that dog poop contains bacterial like fecal coliform that cause cramps, diarrhea, intestinal illness, and kidney disorders in humans. Oh my! Dog poop also contains roundworms, tapeworms, and salmonellosis. Oh no!
If you are not concerned for my safety, please know that your dog can get sick as well from other dog’s poop just like you and I can. Or if you have children, they are the most likely to get dog poop on them when walking a trail, because children are natural explorers and like to touch everything. Pick up your dog’s poop and save other dogs, children, and me!
Sadly, I found more bad news. Ugh. According to the EPA, two to three days’ worth of dog poop from 100 dogs contains enough bacteria to close down nearby beaches and shellfishing spots.
To put this into perspective, Destruction Brook Woods has approximately 100 dogs walk the trails daily during the summer. A summer storm rolls in on an August day and that rainwater washes all the dog poop from the reserve into Destruction Brook, which then flows into Slocum River and out to Buzzards Bay. The next day, a beautiful hot day perfect for swimming, a worker tests the waters at Demarest Lloyd beach and finds the bacteria levels to be at an unsafe high and closes the beach until the bacteria levels go down. Beach day ruined. Pick up your dog’s poop and prevent beach closures!
Please, please, please pick up your dog’s poop and throw it away in the trash. If you hate the environment and children, fine, but at least think of poor ol’ me covered in your dog’s poop when I go out to maintain your favorite walking trails. Pick up the poop! You will be my hero!