Archive for February 5, 2008

Jesus Held Hostage Over Dog Poop

A newsflash from our ‘strange but true’ files:

See The Whole Ugly Story Here
(sorry, we can’t imbed shockwave video)

A mysterious phone call, an anonymous ransom note, a concrete Jesus and an act of underground scatological activism combine to create a tale that sounds like it came right out of Tom Robbins’ imagination.

winkingjesus.jpg

Dog poop is a subject that seems to bring out the 6-year-old in all of us. Partly because it’s still taboo to talk about fecal matter in polite society and – sadly – because so many of us are as irresponsible as spoiled 6-year-olds when it comes to dealing with it.

Otherwise responsible adults walk away from their dog’s fresh pile without even a glance. They leave steaming piles of poop on sidewalks and playgrounds like they think the poop fairy will come and clean up after them. 

So what’s the big deal?  Why would anonymous forces kidnap an elderly woman’s cherished concrete Jesus just to protest a few errant piles of poo?

There’s more to this than poop on our shoes. Even though aesthetic issues are the main reason that the public complains about dog poop, research indicates that unpicked up dog poop poses significant risks to surface water bodies and human health. And this problem isn’t going to go away on its own. 

According to a report prepared by the Stormwater Manager’s Resource Center 

The reluctance of many residents to handle dog waste is the biggest limitation to controlling pet waste. According to a Chesapeake Bay survey, 44% of dog walkers who do not pick up indicated they would still refuse to pick up, even if confronted by complaints from neighbors, threatened with fines, or provided with more sanitary and convenient options for retrieving and disposing of dog waste.” 

Amazing. Fines, peer-pressure and convenient bags and bins won’t convince hard core fecal scofflaws to mend their ways. Do we need resort to sending repeat offenders to jail? 

Better that than more dog limit laws and ‘no dogs allowed’ signs in public places.  Dog poop isn’t just unsightly and inconvenient; it is beginning to pose a significant threat to surface water.  Studies have shown that up to 95% of the fecal coliform in urban watersheds comes from non-human sources. And although wildlife and livestock are the major contributors of waste in most areas, 20% of the bacteria detected in watersheds in the Seattle area was found to have a canine origin. 

Zoonotic diseases and parasites from dog poop run off into surface water bodies when it rains or during the spring snow melt. According to the EPA, some beach closings have resulted from bacterial contamination originating from pet waste. 

And that waste isn’t just in parks and along pathways.  It’s also in our backyards.  In fact, dog poop laying around in yards makes up about 85% of the problem according to a study conducted by Snohomish County, Washington. 

Runoff contaminated by pet waste can lead to the eutrophication of lakes and ponds.  Eutrophication is the process where water bodies receive excess nutrients that stimulate rampant plant growth (nitrogen compounds in poop are a source of these nutrients).  The excess growth, often occurring to as an algal bloom, reduces dissolved oxygen in the water when the plant material dies and decomposes.  The poop itself also reduces dissolved oxygen when it decomposes in water. 

Algal blooms can be deadly to animals that drink the contaminated water.  Several dogs die from blue-green algae poisoning every year.

So – that poop your neighbor didn’t pick up in his yard can kill your dog when he goes for a swim.  It also kills aquatic organisms and other wildlife.

The woman who’s concrete Jesus was kidnapped seemed to be utterly dumbfounded that someone would care enough about ‘weiner poopie’ to resort to such a dastardly deed.  

I’m sorry that more of us don’t.

February 5, 2008 at 7:43 pm 5 comments


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