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Pet Waste Belongs in the Trash

Girl and pathogens from dog waste

Veterinarians and waste haulers agree: the trash is the safest place to dispose of your pet's waste.

Pet waste is raw sewage

Pet waste can contain disease-causing organisms, including roundworms, Giardia, Salmonella, E. coli, Cryptosporidium, Toxoplasma and Parvovirus. Even when pet waste looks like it has washed away, many of these pathogens can survive for days, weeks or months in soil and water waiting for a host. People and pets can come into contact with pathogens found in pet waste while playing in grass, gardening, swimming, fishing, or boating.

Harmful levels of fecal coliform bacteria have been found in all the urban creeks in Bellingham, making them unsafe for recreation. High levels of fecal bacteria can also cause closures in commercial shellfish beds and spread illnesses to pets and wildlife. In addition, the nutrients in pet waste can create harmful algal blooms in lakes that turn the water green and cloudy, kill fish and make it unappealing for swimming and boating.

Dogs at Home

Pick up dog poop at home at least weekly, bag it, and place it in the trash. Most Bellingham dog owners scoop the poop at least weekly. The biggest scooping challenges dog owners face are making time to scoop regularly and keeping up when it's dark, cold or rainy. Keep a flashlight on your leash to help find droppings after dark. When it's rainy, scoop poop as soon as possible to prevent disease-causing organisms from running off into streams or hatching eggs in the soil. If you can promise to scoop at home at least weekly, make the Scoop the Poop Promise today. We'll send you a free flashlight and bag dispenser for your leash.

Dogs on Walks

When out on walks, take plastic bags with you to pick up the poop, and put it in the trash when you get home. Some parks and trails provide poop bags and trash cans, but it is your responsibility to come prepared and remove your dog's waste at all times.

You Can Help!

Outdoor Cats & Other Contributors

Outdoor cats can be trained to use a litter box. Cat waste and used litter should be put in a sealed bag and then in the garbage. The sewer system is not designed to handle cat litter or cat waste.

Wildlife, such as deer, raccoons, and geese, can also contribute unhealthy levels of waste if their populations are concentrated. Avoid attracting wildlife to your home or parks. Never feed wildlife and keep trash and pet food well sealed. Healthy watersheds are able to handle natural levels of animal waste without damage to water quality.

Other sources of fecal coliform bacteria include leaking sewers, failing septic systems, and homeless encampments.

The City's efforts to lower fecal coliform levels in our urban streams include the pet waste management program; regular clean-up of mapped homeless encampments as well as efforts to match homeless community members with appropriate social services; the Urban Streams Monitoring program; and habitat restoration studies and projects.

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