Thursday, March 27, 2008

The best way to dispose of dog poop

Based on my research, the best way to handle dog poop is to use a reusable pooper scooper and flush the poop down a toilet.
Pros:
- Sewer systems are designed to handle poop (yours and your pet's) safely and effectively (this was verified by calling the local sewage treatment plant in Sunnyvale, California)
- The poop is treated and recycled fairly quickly and safely back into the environment
Cons:
- Need to carry the poop to a toilet
- Need to purchase or make a reusable pooper scooper


Here are other alternatives generally listed from healthiest for environment to least healthy.

Use a flushable poop bag and flush down a toilet.
Pros:
- Sewer systems are designed to handle poop
- The poop is treated and recycled
- Easy to carry bag around to pick up poop
Cons:
- Flushable bags can "melt" in rain or other very wet conditions
- Flushable bags should be kept sealed in another plastic bag before use
- Flushable bags are a bit expensive and hard to find
- Flushable bags smell a bit


Put the poop in the trash.
Pros:
- Sometimes easier than flushing down a toilet
- Easy for poop picked up in a plastic doogie doo bag
Cons:
- Dangerous to sanitation workers
- Poop is not recycled easily back into our environment in a landfill
- Takes up landfill space
- Uses up plastic bags (which do not decompose very quickly)


Hire a pet waste pickup service.
Pros:
- Someone else does the dirty work
Cons:
- Expensive
- Poop probably just ends up in the trash in which case those cons also apply
- It takes extra energy and causes extra pollution for a service to drive to and from your house


Put it in a "doogie doolie" septic system.
Pros:
- Does attempt to recycle poop and get it safely back into environment
Cons:
- Expensive
- Takes work to set up and maintain
- Have to purchase system
- Can smell
- Can spread disease
- A real septic tank system is much more effective, these smaller septic-like systems are usually too small to work safely and effectively


Bury it.
Pros:
- Cheap
Cons:
- Takes a bit of effort to dig hole
- Can still spread disease and smell
Comments:
- May be the best option when you are very far from civilization


Leave it were it is.
Pros:
- Cheap & easy
Cons:
- Spreads disease to you and your pets
- Greatly increases the local fly population
- Messy to step in
- Smells and is unsightly
- Illegal in many public areas
Comments:
- This is generally the worst option.

---------- October 15, 2008 addition ----------
Additional supporting references can be found at:
http://www.slate.com/id/2200638/
http://www.tappwater.org/what-pet.aspx?a=viewPost&PostID=2242
http://www.epa.gov/safewater/sourcewater/pubs/fs_swpp_petwaste.pdf

9 comments:

michael said...

good post about how to deal with dog poops. I use flushable dog waste bags by flushdoggy.com. They work great and in my opinion the best way to deal with dog poops.

Tim Oey said...

Glad you liked the post. I haven't tried out flushdoggy.com yet. I'll give it a whirl. Looks like flushdoggy.com is still spinning up at this point. The bags they offer are made of the same material I've tried -- polyvinyl alcohol.

The article they reference at tappwatter.org is an excellent one that I had not seen before.

robert said...

Of course flushing is the best answer thats why we have toilets. The best flushable bag is the original "The Flushable Bag". It last longer on walks and has been around for years. I have flushed thousands of them with no problems. Manufactured by a US company in England or is it the UK.

elmhirstpackaging said...

There's the other option of putting it in a municipal compost where there's a green bin program.

I've been using compostable biobag dog poop bags and then just throwing them in the compost bin. Personally I wouldn't want to have to carry a bag of poop through my house

magadoula said...

I would not think composting is even an option. I've been using biodegradable bags, but never thought about flushing! I'm going to try the flushdoggy.com bags. Thanks for the very useful information.

Tim Oey said...

Please note that putting dog poop in municipal compost is often discouraged. Please check with your composting facility first as it may not be set up to handle this sort of waste safely.

Tim Oey said...

FYI: The Sierra Club confirms flushing or trashing poop is the best. See sierraclub.typepad.com/greenlife/2011/11/what-do-i-do-with-dog-doo.html

Unknown said...

What if you have a septic tank and will it handle yhat much poop?

Tim Oey said...

Regarding dog poop in septic systems, that is a good question. Let's think it thru, septic systems are designed to handle human poop (omnivore). Dog poop is pretty close although not identical (being more of a carnivore although modern dog foods are often more omnivore like). While septic systems are not as efficient as sewage plants at handling poop, they are still better at it then leaving poop on your lawn.

Regarding "that much poop", do you have lots of dogs? More than humans? Humans generate quite a bit of poop, generally more than most dogs except the largest ones.

Note that herbivore poop (rabbits, chickens, cows, goats, etc) are definitely best used directly as fertilizer but not so for human and meat eating pet poop.

One other thought. If you have a septic system, then you are probably in a rural area. If you are in a rural area, it is ok to leave pet poop lie where it is in fields and woods if it is spread far and few between. That's how wild carnivores handle it too. But if you have lots of dogs or the poop ends up being to close together, it becomes a biological safety hazard.

Hope that helps.