The BUZZ on Dogs: Poop Really Stinks

Some of Beacon Hill’s most charming residents are the canine kind. As a matter of record, there are 185 adorable pooches registered on the Hill and 7,000 in all of Boston, according to the city’s registry.

They are good neighbors who want to do the right thing: play ball, lick kids, chase squirrels and be happy-go-lucky pets. But along with cuddles and fur comes a stinky problem: poop. And some owners out there don’t understand the importance of doing the neighborly thing and scooping the poop!

Dog feces are third on the list of highest contributors to contaminated water. A single gram of dog waste can contain 23 million fecal coliform bacteria and other nasty creatures that cause illness and serious disorders in dogs and humans alike. The EPA estimates that two or three days’ worth of droppings from a population of about 100 dogs (less than our Beacon Hill dog community) would contribute enough bacteria to temporarily close a bay and all watershed areas within 20 miles of it to swimming and shell fishing.

Today, private companies with clever names like “Pooprints” are working nationwide to create DNA poop tracking. While some American cities have contemplated using DNA to better enforce dog-fouling ordinances, for the most part only property managers are using the private poop trackers, and general city ordinances remain loosely enforced. Two boroughs of London ran DNA tests on dog poop on their sidewalks to identify neglectful owners and are slowly rolling out a program with DNA registration and increased fines.

It’s enough to make good neighbors (and good dog owners) rabid.  So here is the scoop:

  • If you forget a doggie bag, go back and grab one or ask a passing-by dog owner. It’s that important.
  • Never throw dog waste into the grates in the street. These grates are catch basins, which are part of Boston’s underground storm drain system and many lead directly to the Charles. Don’t throw your doggie bag into a neighbor’s tree pit either for him or her to clean up.
  • Contrary to popular belief, dog poop is not fertilizer. Never place dog waste near a tree or in soil: the bacteria doesn’t disappear. It’s bad for the soil, the tree, the foot that steps in it, the next dog that sniffs it, your relationship with your neighbors and the health of the Charles River and Boston Harbor.
  • Keep in mind it’s illegal to leave poop. The City of Boston’s dog fouling ordinance requires dog owners to remove and properly dispose of any feces left by dogs on sidewalks, streets, parks and neighbors’ yards. The fine is $50. We wish it were more.

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