DogWaste Environmental Emergency Congratulations to the Canadian Government on exhibiting global leadership by way of their recent announcement banning single-use plastics as early as 2021.
Aside from the direct impact on the local environment, the public health issues associated because of dog feces is also cumulatively quite significant. These issues, which anecdotally are widely unknown by dog owners and the general population, is being exacerbated as the human population continues to increase and urbanize. So too does the dog population at an even greater rate resulting with accelerated densification, amplified pressures on public spaces and the rapid deterioration of water quality. Considering the sheer volume of dog waste, it is unsurprising that up to 30% of total measured bacteria within urban receiving waters (e.g., municipal drains, storm water ponds, streams) have been directly attributed to dog inputs (Ellis, 2004; O’Keefe et al., 2005). In fact, dogs are now identified as the single greatest contributor of fecal coliform loading within urban areas (Hobbie et al., 2017 Selvakumar and Borst, 2006) with even small amounts of fecal bacteria found to significantly reduce water quality (Ervin et al., 2014) causing significant human health hazards and ecosystem degradation. The ubiquitous nature of dog waste as a worldwide runoff pollutant and its nutrient loading effect has serious and significant impacts on real-world fish communities that will be worsened under future climate change, continued urbanization, and the increase of impervious surfaces. Dog waste has been found to be responsible for up to 76% of total phosphorus and 28% of total nitrogen levels in some urban watersheds, which is more than is linked to agricultural practices, increasing rates of eutrophication and associated algal blooms, habitat loss and even fish kills (Hobbie et al., 2017) with algae blooms themselves at times producing toxic compounds (Carpenter et al. 1998). These algae blooms rooted by dog waste are not isolated to only waterways but also cause tremendous damage to the municipal controlled stormwater infrastructure. These blooms grow
This ban will be integral to the nationally declared climate emergency as passed by the House of Commons on June 17, 2019. A primary catalyst towards this ‘call to action’ was grounded by the highly publicized United Nations’ 2017 assertion on the “War on Ocean Plastics”. Today, 493 Canadian municipalities have followed suit by asserting their own environmental emergency proclamations. It is estimated that in 2016, 29,000 tonnes or 1% of all plastic waste in Canada was improperly disposed of eventually entering the environment in the form of litter. Of that, 49% or 14,210 tonnes was estimated to be packaging, including single- use plastics essentially signifying that less than one-half of 1% of plastic packaging was improperly disposed of (Government of Canada, 2020). While there is room for improvement, this demonstrates that Canadians are relatively effective at disposing plastic waste correctly and keeping it out of the environment. However, there is a huge gap between what Canadians should be and are actually doing regarding dog waste. Every 13 days Canadians negligently abandon the same amount of dog waste by weight in our environment as single-use plastic packaging for the entire year. Dog waste is 28 times more abundant as an environmental pollutant compared to single-use plastic pollution. In 2016, Canada’s 7.6 million dogs (Canadian Animal Health Institute, 2019) each producing 340g of feces on average per day collectively generated nearly 1 million tonnes of waste. Considering that only 60% of people pick up their dog waste (Swann, 1999; Waters et al., 2011), 400,000 tonnes of dog feces, the equivalent weight of roughly 3.5 CN Towers, became direct land or marine pollution.
Ontario Parks Association
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