If you’re a dog owner, you probably already know about Bothell’s scooping law (BMC 6.16.011) and why leaving it on the ground could stick you with a $250 fine. But do you know what to do with pet waste after you scoop it?
Should I compost it?
Residential compost piles don't get hot enough to kill the harmful organisms found in dog poop. Your organics bin is also no place for pet waste. Commercial composting facilities don't want pet waste because it contaminates their compost. Even if you are using a bag labeled as biodegradable or compostable, it shouldn't mix with your compost or other organics. Landfills aren't designed to properly break down biodegradable pet waste bags, which require air to decompose.
Should I bury it?
Burying dog poop allows pathogens and excess nutrients into local streams, and it lets long-lasting bacteria and parasites establish themselves in soils. Some dog owners use in-ground digesters, which are basically like doggie septic systems, but they have been known to malfunction frequently.
Should I scoop it, bag it, and trash it?
Toss your bagged pet waste into the trash. Landfills are designed to keep pet waste contained, monitored, and out of our streams. Choose bags some recycled content over biodegradable bags. "Biodegradable" bags need oxygen in order to degrade, so they’re often unable to break down when trapped in the compacted layers in a landfill.
Why does scooping matter?
Dog poop is full of harmful bacteria that can make people, pets, and wildlife very sick. When it rains, bacteria from dog poop washes into storm drains where it is then carried directly to the nearest stream, polluting the water. Leaving dog poop in the grass offers an ideal place for bacteria and parasites to thrive, some for months and some for up four years! Yuck.
Disposing of pet waste the right way promotes healthy people, healthy pets, clean water, and clean shoes. Thanks for doing your part!