Many posts on this blog focus on hiking, fishing, birding, and other great activities but I would guess that the most popular outdoor activity in Massachusetts is dog walking.
One of the most significant sources of water pollution in our rivers and bays is furry and has four legs. But the bigger problem may be the companion with two legs and a leash. Un-scooped dog waste contributes huge amounts of pollution – especially disease-causing bacteria – to our waters. In some water bodies, pet waste is the number one source of water pollution.
Hold your nose and consider this: In 2007, over 37 percent of households in the United States owned a dog. Let’s say there is one dog for each 10 people in a given watershed. Then assume an average half a pound of waste is generated per dog per day. The Charles River watershed, with some 900,000 residents, then likely has 90,000 dogs. At half a pound of waste per dog per day that is 45,000 pounds, or 22.5 tons of dog waste generated every day or over 16 million pounds per year!
Dog waste can carry many bacteria and other pathogens. Studies have shown that a typical dog dropping can have as many as 3 billion fecal coliform bacteria. Pets frequently carry giardia and salmonella as well. There are plenty of other compounds in that stuff that encourage the blooms of algae and weeds that clog up rivers and lakes. Some of that growth – called cyanobacteria – also presents a danger to human health.
Waste left on the sidewalk or on the grass doesn’t simply go away. It makes its way, untreated, to storm drains or directly into water bodies where we swim, boat, or fish. When rainstorms wash pet waste and other pollutants into storm drains, we get beach postings due to bacteria or cyanobacteria, warning against swimming just when we most want to go into the water.
So, pick up after your pets – in your yard, in the park, or on the street.
2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: April posted on May 14
A lamb at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in North Grafton. Photo by David Cawston April’s contest winner was David Cawston who photographed a spring lamb at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in North Grafton. The Cummings School of …Continue Reading 2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: April
2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: March posted on Apr 23
Girard’s Sugarhouse in Heath, MA. The sugarhouse was built in 1887 and produces around 250-300 gallons of syrup annually. Photo by Michael Girard March’s contest winner was Michael Girard who photographed his family’s sugarhouse in Heath. Michael Girard has been a sugarmaker since 1961 when he …Continue Reading 2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: March
2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: February posted on Feb 25
February’s contest winner was Amanda Bettle, who photographed sheep at The Natural Resources Trust of Easton. This photo features Dog, a former 4-H show animal and sole male sheep among the nine ewes in the Natural Resources Trust of Easton (NRT) flock. It is the mission …Continue Reading 2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: February