Dog ownership can provide lots of love and companionship for a person or family. Walking a dog provides great exercise for the animal and the owner, but failing to pick up your dog’s waste is not only a public nuisance, it hurts the environment. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the typical dog excretes three quarters of a pound of waste per day—or 274 pounds per year! Pet waste is full of bacteria, viruses and parasites such as E. coli, fecal coliform, and roundworms. When pet waste is left on the curb or the side of the road all of the bacteria and viruses in that pet waste are picked up by rain water and washed down the storm drain into the nearest creek, river or lake. This makes the waterways unsafe for humans due to high bacteria levels.
Waterways in Lexington County are impaired for fecal coliform bacteria, including Twelve Mile, Kinley and Congaree Creeks. Although these impairments can’t be attributed solely to bacteria from pet waste, it does play a part.
Picking up your pet’s waste is the law.
Lexington County Animal Control Ordinance 17-01, Section 10-34(i) states:
The owner of every pet shall be responsible for the removal of any excreta deposited by the pet on public walks and ways, recreation areas, or private property.
Many of the towns and cities within Lexington County have similar ordinances. Violation of these ordinances can lead to citations and fines.
As a pet owner there are many things that you can do to reduce your pet’s impact on the environment.
1. Always scoop the poop! It’s the law.
2. Install a pet waste bag station in your neighborhood or at your business. LCSC has instructions for building your own station.
3. If your animal’s waste collects in your back yard, consider a pet waste composter to safely dispose of the waste. See information on pet composting.
“TRASH THE POOP CAMPAIGN”
Lexington County and the City of Columbia have partnered to promote proper pet waste disposal with the “Trash the Poop” campaign. The campaign includes radio and TV ads and billboards with a simple message: If you don’t like stepping, playing or swimming in pet waste there’s a simple solution, Trash the Poop.
Making it easier to Trash the Poop in Lexington County
Lexington County Animal Services (321 Ballpark Road in Lexington) will give new dog adoptees a Trash the Poop plastic bag holder that attaches to their dog’s leash. Interested new dog owners can also enter a quarterly drawing to win a Doggie Dooley underground pet waste disposal system. With a flip of the lid, this underground pet waste disposal system makes it easy to deposit pet waste and decreases pollution of our Midlands waterways. If you are interested in pet adoption, please contact Lexington County Animal Services at (803) 785-8149.
Free Pet Waste Stations for Neighborhoods and Businesses:
The Lexington Countywide Stormwater Consortium has pet waste stations available to home owners associations and dog related business such as veterinarians, dog groomers and pet stores that meet certain requirements. These sturdy wooden pet waste stations are hand constructed and come with one roll (200) bags at no cost. To apply to receive a pet waste station for your HOA or business Click here for request form .
COMPOSTING YOUR DOG’S WASTE
Composting the pet waste in your back yard is a simple and inexpensive way to reduce your pet’s impact on the environment and create a valuable amendment for your soil.
The benefits of composting your animal’s waste include:
- Composting removes raw dog waste from the environment where it can pollute groundwater and streams.
- Good composting destroys pathogens and produces a safe soil amendment.
- Good on-site composting eliminates transporting dog waste to a landfill. This saves time, money, energy, and landfill space.
- Good composting produces a quality soil additive that improves both the physical condition and fertility of the soil.
You can purchase a composter for your pet’s waste or build your own. Below are simple instructions on building your own composter.
- Start with an old (or new) garbage can and multiple drill holes in the sides. The size of the can depends on the size of your dog and the amount of poop your pup produces.
- Cut out the bottom of the can.
- Dig a hole in the ground that can fit the can. Locate the hole at least 15 feet from a vegetable garden. If you have poorly draining soils you may want to make the hole big enough to surround the can with rocks or gravel to help with drainage.
- Fill the bottom of the hole with rocks or gravel for drainage.
- Insert your can so that it is a little higher that the soil level. If you have sandy soils surround your can with filter fabric to prevent sand from caving into the can.
- Place the lid on top of your can. Feel free to decorate the lid to fit in with your landscape.
- Add the dog poop to the can, some septic starter and water.
When composted properly dog waste makes a safe and valuable soil additive. It is not advised that you use pet compost in gardens. If you’re concerned about the health risks of composting dog waste take these considerations:
- Always wear gloves when handling animal waste and wash your hands afterwards.
- Don’t add animal waste from unknown dogs or dogs that appear sick.
- Do not allow children to play in areas where dog compost has been applied.
- Keep dog waste tools separate from other tools.