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Poop, and picking it up

My new issue of Fido Friendly arrived last night, and while I’ve mentioned before how much I love the travel articles, the ads are almost an equal attraction. This time, the money-winner was an ad on page 25 for the Pawsby PooPatroller, a “concealed pooper scooper plus” (plus what? a flashlight, leash, and removable water bowl, it turns out). I realize that someone is pinning his hopes on the success of the PooPatroller, and is even now gazing with pride at boxes of PooPatroller units. I don’t want to rain on his parade. I’m compelled, however, to make the following points about poop:

Pick up your dog’s poop

Many people don’t pick up after their dogs, some because they just don’t want to, and some because they feel that dog poop is a natural fertilizer. It turns out, however, that dog poop is a source of disease for your dog, other animals and for humans (including roundworms, salmonella, and E. coli, among others). Because of these risks, it is a poor fertilizer. When it rains, dog waste is washed into lakes and streams, making them unsafe for swimming, and into public water supplies, increasing the cost of water treatment.

It’s not difficult

You buy a roll of poop bags, or you grab a couple of the bags your newspaper comes in. You put your hand in the bag. You pick up the poop. Because you use your hand, you don’t mangle the poop getting it into the bag, so smell is not an issue. You pull the bag off your hand, enclosing the poop. You tie the top in a single knot. You never come into direct contact with dog poop. What could be simpler? [5/14/10 If you need inspiration, here are pix of sexy, beautiful, famous people picking up dog poop, courtesy of People Pets! They’re all using the hand-in-the-bag method!]

And yet there are services that will come out and do the dirty work for you, and an endless stream of products designed to keep poop at arm’s length. If you’re looking for a home system, check out the Doggie Dooley products. If you’re walking a dog, however, you need to carry your disposal system with you. Here’s where products like Dispoz-A-Scoop and the PooPatroller come in.

Dispoz-A-Scoop disposable scoopers require the user to nudge the poop into the holder — with what? and heaven help you in long grass. Also, please note that while the bag and cardboard handle are biodegradable, the wire frame isn’t.

The PooPatroller gets around the wasteful packaging problem by using biodegradable bags, but requires you to carry around a sizable pooper scooper (dressed up as a helmeted dog in sunglasses). It comes with an attached leash, presumably to cut down on the number of things you have to handle at once, but the effect is not streamlined. I’ll just say that until I saw the PooPatroller publicity shot, I had never seen a glum Cavalier.

All of this machinery seems particularly foolish to me, given that both products are directed at owners of small dogs. A small dog’s poop pile is small, and takes only a second or two to pick up directly.

I hadn’t realized I had so many gripes about poop. I’ll stop now, with one last rant about people who tuck a full bag of poop under their dog’s collar so the dog can carry it until they get to a trashcan. Maybe dogs don’t really care about this one, despite their incredible sense of smell, but it bugs the heck out of me. Surely we can carry the bag ourselves, or leave it in a known spot to pick up on the return trip.


  • Rod@GoPetFriendly

    When researching my blog posts on pet friendly hotels and dog friendly restaurants, most people’s negative reactions stem from dog owners not picking up their pooch’s poop. It’s disheartening for businesses that promote pet travel be an indirect victim of the very people we try to help! If people want to enjoy expanded privileges for their dogs, they have to pick up … and call out other people they see who are not picking up.

    With respect to eco-friendly poop bags. If you are putting poop in any receptacle that is lined with a standard trash bag, an eco bag is not doing any good.

  • Michele

    Thanks for posting this, and for mentioning that dog poop is a terrible fertilizer. It destroys grass and plants. Not picking up after a dog, gives dog owners a bad name.

  • Anil

    The amount of dog poop on the streets of Europe is incredible, it’s hard to walk very far without having to alter your step not to land in a big pile of crap. Wish more people cleaned up after their animals!

  • Karen Friesecke

    good post! It’s important to remind people to scoop the poop and a lot of owners don’t do it in my neighborhood. on a side note, NO animal poo makes suitable fertilizer right away. It has to mature for a few months before it can be used. My friends have cattle and when they clean out the barn, the manure has to “mellow” for a few months in a pile before it can be spread on the field, otherwise it “burns” the plants.

  • Thank you all for the really useful comments! Your point, Rod, about the eco-friendly bags not breaking down if they’re collected in an ordinary trash bag is, sadly, exactly right. My hope is that someday the big trash bags will also be eco-friendly…. Another grim point to make in favor of picking up poop is that some dogs show more interest than they should in other dogs’ poop, if you know what I mean (and alas, we all do…).

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