I have to admit, when my family had a dog, we always used to pick up her droppings with the plastic bags from the grocery store–not the ones used for carrying all your groceries, but the ones used for fresh fruits and vegetables. These fruit and vegetable bags were small and the perfect size for putting your hand in and picking up the poop with the bag (and flipping it inside out so everything is contained in the bag) so that your hand never touched the feces. They are convenient because they fit right into your jacket pocket and you can just whip them out when walking your dog.
Of course, there are more eco-friendly ways of picking up the droppings. You can purchase biodegradable bags or a pooper scooper. But, the scooper can be cumbersome to carry on long walks. Another reason is, even if you take your own bags to the grocery store, chances are, you will still have those plastic fruit and vegetable bags for the fresh stuff. If you’re only going to throw these out anyway, using them for your dog is a reasonable choice.
Leaving animal waste, particularly in an urban environment can lead to health hazards. While fertilizing the lawn and cutting down on plastics is a 2 birds with one stone situation there is more to it than that. Feces can harbor bacteria that may be harmful to other animals. It would also attract flies, which are known carriers of disease. If poo were never picked up by any of a city’s dog owning residents, incedents of poo being tracked into places where it didn’t belong would lead to a higher usage of toxic cleaners anc carpet shampooing which would ultimately be worse than the bags themselves.
I pick up my dog’s poop just to be polite. Whether you are in your neighborhood or in a park, other people want to be able to enjoy being outside as well, and if there were dog poop everywhere what would be hard to do. There are biodegradable bags like dara010 mentioned, which I use when I have to. However, the greatest thing that I have taught my dog to do is only poop in the ivy, which is pretty easy to do with treats.
In national parks, they ask that you pick up poop to respect other people use of the park, their safety as well as protecting certain aspects of the ecosystem. Dog poop can transmit lots of diseases that can harm people, other dogs, and animals that live in the park. Poop also contains nitrogen which acts like a fertilizer, and enough of it can change the way plants grow, cause eutrophication of streams, and invite non-native species to the party.
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