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Doo the Right Thing

Nothing can quite compare to the feeling of walking barefoot through the grass on a warm Spring day...and stepping in a huge pile of fresh dog poop. Let's face it; the refusal of many dog owners to remove their pets' waste from public property does absolutely nothing to improve the general public's opinion of our canine friends. And the bigger the dog, the more noticeable the offense.

The problem with dog waste goes well beyond the inconvenience of having to scrape it off the bottom of your shoe before you go into your house. There are real health concerns associated with leaving the stuff lying around. Dog feces can harbor certain harmful bacteria and parasites and, while rare, it is possible for these to be transmitted to humans. Especially at risk are small children (famous for putting everything in their mouths) who come into contact with contaminated soil or water. The resulting health problems can range from mild skin rashes to very serious bacterial infections with symptoms of fever, nausea, and diarrhea. Flies that accumulate around piles of dog doo also pose a health risk since they can carry all kinds of disease.

Disease and infection aren't the only health concerns, either. In Paris, where dog waste is a big problem, more than 650 people each year wind up in the hospital with broken bones as a result of slipping on the stuff.

If concern for others isn't enough to get you to pick up after your dog, think of the potential impact it could have on your wallet. Around the world, many cities and towns are now imposing stiff fines for "pooper scooper" law violations. Fines range anywhere from $50 per offense to as high as $750 in London. And it's not just dog owners who wind up paying; the city of Paris pays $8.4 million each year to lease 70 motorized pooper scoopers (known as "caninettes") to vacuum dog waste from its streets and sidewalks and the bill is passed along to its taxpayers. How long before your town starts charging its citizens to clean up after its irresponsible dog owners?

It's neither difficult nor expensive to pick up after your dogs. While there are many products on the market that claim to make the task so clean and easy that it's almost enjoyable, we've found that the simplest, cheapest solution is also the best: When you walk your dog, bring along a plastic bag. The bags in which newspapers are delivered work fine but, for our very large dog, we prefer plastic supermarket shopping bags. (They also have the added advantage of being opaque.) After your dog has completed his business, stick your hand in the bag, grab the pile, turn the bag inside out, tie a knot in it, and throw it in the trash.

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