VALPARAISO | It's an unpleasant job but cleaning up after your pet is part of the responsibility of ownership, and it's the message behind the city's "Scoop the Poop" program.
"Pet waste is an environmental pollutant that contributes to bacterial and nutrient contamination of our waterways," Mingyan Zhou, the engineering department's Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) operator, said. "By educating pet owners, we can help reduce contamination."
While picking up the poop might qualify for cable TV's "Dirty Jobs" show, stepping in it or swimming or fishing in water contaminated with pet waste is much worse. And it's illegal if the waste is not on the pet owner's property. Instead of leaving it behind, it should be sealed in a plastic bag and disposed of in the trash.
Other tips for dealing with pet poop include:
- Never dispose of pet waste in a catch basin, storm drain or on the street.
- Don't use pet waste as fertilizer, as the bacteria does much more harm than good.
- Don't add pet waste to a compost pile, as the pile will not get hot enough to kill the disease-causing organisms.
To encourage pet owners to pick up their pet's poop, the city's Parks Department and the Vale Park Animal Hospital teamed up to install pet waste stations in several locations in the city, including Fairgrounds Park, Central Park Plaza and the Cumberland Loop.
As part of the "Scoop the Poop" program, the city is offering free pet waste bag dispensers to those who live within the city limits and pay the stormwater fees (while supplies last). The refillable dispensers attach to the pet's leash and carry biodegradable baggies for picking up the poop.
The dispensers are currently available at the parks offices, 3210 Campbell St.; the city utilities office, 205 Billings St., and city hall, 166 Lincolnway. For more information about the program, visit the MS4 Program Web site at Valpo.us/MS4 or email MS4@valpo.us.