Why You Should Recycle Your Dog’s Waste

By Kim Boatman

Why You Should Recycle Your Dog’s Waste

An estimated 73 million dogs live in the United States, and each dog produces an average of 274 pounds of waste a year. About 5 percent of waste in landfills is dog fecal material, which makes for a mighty big carbon footprint for our canine best friends. Dog waste contains pathogens and parasites that can hurt water quality, and since rainwater washes waste into storm drains, then rivers and streams, waste left on open ground harms the environment.

As a result, responsible dog owners and municipalities are addressing the disposal of this waste in various ways. For example, a pilot partnership between dog owners and a compost company in Ithaca, N.Y., is undertaking large-scale composting of waste collected at the city’s dog park. Innovative commercial services in Oregon and Colorado also collect dog poop and recycle it.

What You Can Do About Dog Waste
With care and effort, you can dispose of your dog’s waste in an environmentally safe way. Since dog poop can contain such bacteria as E. coli and salmonella, it’s important to handle it safely. You don’t want it contaminating groundwater tables, for instance, and it wouldn’t make appropriate compost for a vegetable garden. In fact, it’s best to dig composted matter into soil around ornamental plants, says Sharon Slack, head gardener at Vancouver’s compost demonstration garden in British Columbia.

Consider these green disposal methods:

  • Commercial in-ground dog waste toilet For $89.95, you can purchase an in-ground Doggie Dooley kit, which includes a galvanized steel tank with a polymer lid, a supply of digester powder containing bacteria that speed decomposition, a long-handled scooper and an odor-eliminating solution. You bury the tank to the height of the lid, then simply dispose of poop in the tank. The Dooley requires a modest amount of maintenance: All you need to do is add water and the digester. “Typically, there’s no odor, because there’s a lid, and it’s at ground level,” explains Carey Stiles, president of the product’s manufacturer, Hueter Toledo Inc.

The company makes several models, the largest of which accommodates two large -- or four small -- dogs. “You don’t have to clean the system out,” says Stiles: The waste breaks down into the soil around or below the tank, depending on the model. But do “test your soil first for good drainage,” since in-ground composters won’t work if you have either hard clay soil or porous sandy soil, adds Stiles.

  • DIY in-ground composter For a low-cost option, cut a hole in the bottom of a plastic garbage can, dig a hole in the ground, line the bottom of the pit with rocks for drainage, then insert the can. You’ll want the can lid to rest at ground level, says Slack. You’ll also need to use some sort of natural septic starter or bacteria culture and water to aid the composting process. You can sprinkle soil on top of each deposit you make or add brown leaves or green yard waste to speed the process.

“If you are really good about putting your bacteria culture in and you have good draining soil, you could probably go a long time,” says Slack.

  • Above-ground electric composter NatureMill Inc., a San Francisco-based manufacturer, sells electric-powered composters that you simply plug into an outdoor outlet, says NatureMill’s Carrie Donovan. Models range from $299 to $399. The composter heats 24 hours a day and mixes matter every four hours, producing compost in as little as two weeks. An air pump helps alleviate odors.

You’ll likely find using a green disposal system for your pooch’s poop more pleasant than always tossing plastic bags in the trash. As Stiles says, “It’s a nice, neat, safe, clean way to dispose of your pet’s waste.”

Kim Boatman is a journalist based in Northern California. She is also the managing editor of ExceptionalCanine.com. Boatman's work has appeared in The Miami Herald, the Detroit Free Press and the San Jose Mercury News. She is a lifelong lover of animals, and a frequent contributor to The Dog Daily

Tags: dog care

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Posted on February 9, 2012

Omar says: I'm very ispsemred with your site. You have some really new stuff, and am anxious to learn more about using dog pooh for the garden -- makes a lot of sense. I've just been dumping it in a hole. The Dirt Doctor has some great "tea" that he uses with debris, a little apple vinegar and molasses and water...and I'm thinking the pooh might make a quality ingredient.

Posted on March 10, 2012

Juanis says: If I were you I would keep the dog, consider it a rsceue. I would NOT return the dog as it was probably not taken care of. This dog needs much attention now and will adjust. Of course get a health screening to rule out any medical issues, but the behavior is probably just previous improper care. For the diet, I would definitely feed her kibble, but perhaps mix in some table food (or gravy) for now, but wean the dog off that eventually. Give her treats for good behavior (I use pieces of hotdogs). As far as not getting what you paid for .count this as a lesson learned. You should have taken the step of visiting the home, no matter how much the cost of gas is. Gas would have been a small price to pay in consideration of the cost of the dog. You may have decided to take the dog anyway, but if you saw bad conditions, you could have reported them. If it is too far for you too travel, then that is not the right dog for you. You took a chance and lost. Give this dog much attention and patience. Who knows what it has gone through. The dog will become adjusted in time. Make this dog your personal favorite for now and give it unconditional love, that's what it needs. God bless you for providing a home to rsceue dogs. It is my personal belief that if we have the time, money, space, and love to share with an animal, it is our responsibility to care for as many abused, neglected, and abandoned animals that we can. There are so many ignorant, cruel, and selfish people in the world, unfortunately, animals suffer from that. I have had many rsceue dogs. I currently have one daughter of a rsceue that I once had (she delivered 3 days after moving in with us), and 2 rsceue cats. I also have two Pekingese. These I guess are my dream dogs'. They are perfect house dogs, I will probably always have two of them. But there will always be room in my home for one more rsceue dog and two cats. More than that and I don't have the time and money that they all so much deserve.

Posted on January 27, 2011

BtA says: "If you're really good about putting your bacteria culture in and you have good draining soil, you could probably go a long time,” says Slack. Then what? Is there a messy afterstory here that we're not talking about? What do you have to do at the end of that "long time?"

Posted on February 20, 2011

Tricia says: I wonder if bear/squirrel/bird/deer, etc poop is also full of pathogens.

Posted on January 14, 2011

Ann says: What's the carbon footprint for the electric composter? This is a no win situation for those of us who live in hard clay soil conditions.

Posted on October 17, 2010

-len raphael says: for this info. thanks. oakland

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