Poo Fairy

An Issue of Poo

There are roughly 10,000 dogs in the City of North Vancouver. That's a lot of dogs for a four square mile area, especially when you think about the waste they produce. Recent studies suggest that the average dog produces about 340 grams of fecal matter a day. City dogs therefore produce around 103 tonnes of waste a month or 1,241 tonnes a year! That's a lot of poo and it doesn't take into account waste produced by visiting dogs that frequent our many parks, trails and open spaces.

An Issue of Health

With the average dog depositing 340 grams of waste a day, it's frightening to learn that a single gram of poo can contain an estimated 23 million bacteria. Bacteria such as: campylobacter, E. coli, salmonella, yersiniosis, cyclospora, cryptosporidium, giardia, and parasitic worms. It's a list of horror, filled with nasties you may or may not have heard of but you definitely don't want to catch. By leaving your dog's waste on the ground you increase not only the likelihood of someone stepping in it but potentially getting sick from it.

But It Degrades Naturally...

It's true; pet waste will degrade and disappear over time, but it is not a fertilizer and health issues remain. As the waste disintegrates and breaks down, bacteria enters into the local watersheds. Studies have shown that 20 to 30 percent of bacteria in water samples from urban watersheds can be linked to dog waste.

Bag or Flush

Parks, sidewalks and trails are used by everyone in the community, including dog-walkers. Picking up after your dog is very important, not only for people's health and safety, but it helps keep our City looking and smelling beautiful.

Under Metro Vancouver regulations, pet waste is prohibited from the region's garbage, but small amounts are accepted in household garbage or public garbage cans (in parks or on the street).

However, Metro Vancouver estimates that approximately 10,000 tonnes of pet waste ends up in the landfill, where it decomposes and generates methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that is approximately 21 times more potent than CO2. The goal is to limit the amount of pet waste going to the landfill.

Instead, you can dispose of dog waste in the following ways:

  • Flush dog waste in the toilet, so it can be treated at a wastewater treatment plant with other sewage. Do not put it into a storm sewer, as these carry rain to natural creeks.
    *Don't flush any bags. They will clog your plumbing and the City sewer.

  • Call a collection service to pick up dog waste from private spaces. This is a good option for townhouses or apartments where numerous dog owners can cost-share.

  • Build a dog waste composter. Dog waste will decompose cleanly and without odour in a composter specifically allocated for dog waste only. The compost can then be used on shrubs and plants only, NOT on or near your vegetable garden. Find out more here.
    *If you live near a stream, place your composter away from the stream, as the runoff can contain a lot of nutrients (phosphorous and nitrogen) which are not good for streams. Do not dig below groundwater.

Other Pet Waste

Hamsters and Rabbits etc.
There are several ways to deal with their poo. You can either flush, compost or put them in the garbage. The remaining loose litter (sawdust, corn husks, wood shavings, newsprint) can be composted or placed in your green can.

Cat poo can contain a parasite Toxoplasma gondii linked to the disease toxoplasmosis. It is unsafe for people, especially pregnant women.

Cat waste should not be flushed, handled (always wear gloves to clean a litter box) or composted. Dispose of it, bagged, in the garbage. All litter (even litter sold as flushable) can clog the sewers and should not be flushed.

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