February 26, 2023
I like big mutts and I cannot lie. In fact, the bigger and goofier the dog, the happier I am. Ours is a big dog family (and sassy cats, too). If you’ve ever been to the Riverkeeper office, you’ve met my rescue Weim, first mate Janie, also known as “Janeway”, “Jane” and “Hey Drop that Sandwich.” Susan Macken, Admin Director, fondly calls her “Wiggle Butt,” since Janie always dances her way into the office to greet Susan and beg enthusiastically for dog treats. An aside, Susan shares pet treats with all visiting dogs and cats. Stop in!
Clearly, we’re all big fans of canine companions at Apalachicola Riverkeeper and they bring joy to our lives daily. Did you know there are over 89.7 million dogs in the US, according to the American Pet Products Association 2018 survey? That means about 70% of Americans have at least one dog lounging on the couch or front porch presently.
As much as I love dogs, I sure dislike dog poop. Stepping in a pile of pet waste nearly ruins my day and stinks up my shoes in the process. Worse than the stench on my shoe, is the pollution dog poop brings to our soil and water. It can make humans, dogs and other animals quite ill. During rainfall, pet waste left on lawns, beaches, trails, and sidewalks washes into storm drains that lead to water bodies, affecting local water supply. Additionally, gastrointestinal parasites such as hookworms, and whipworms, shed eggs in dog feces. Then, the parasites are easily transmitted to people and dogs via the soil. Intestinal worms really ruin a dog or human’s day!
Dog waste contains nitrogen and phosphorus, which can deplete oxygen that fish and other aquatic life need to survive. It also boosts the growth of harmful algae. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that just 2-3 days’ worth waste from about 100 dogs can contribute enough bacteria to temporarily close a bay and all watershed areas to swimming or shell fishing within 20 miles.
In short, we all adore our dogs, a whole lot. We also love our local waterways. Let’s keep the dog doody bags handy and dispose of pet waste properly. Swimmable, drinkable, fishable water is needed for all species for many decades to come.
Georgia Ackerman is Riverkeeper and Executive Director at Apalachicola Riverkeeper. She’s the proud mom of two adult humans and presently, two rescue Weimaraners. Over the past 35 years, she says there has always been a small pack of dogs roaming her living room. Georgia can be reached at [email protected]