Uptown Group Educating Neighbors About Dangers of Dog Waste

By Nigel Chiwaya on June 12, 2014 3:52pm 

 Inwood Rotary Club President Kyla Williamson (center), is hitting the streets Saturday to educate uptowners on the harms of dog waste on area trees.
Inwood Rotary Club President Kyla Williamson (center), is hitting the streets Saturday to educate uptowners on the harms of dog waste on area trees.
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DNAinfo/Nigel Chiwaya

INWOOD — One group of environmentally minded uptowners isn't playing dead for Inwood's dog waste problem.

The Rotary Club of Inwood Manhattan is taking to the streets this weekend in an all-out blitz to educate dog owners about how their pet's urine and feces can damage trees and soil, and carry diseases that can kill other dogs.

Volunteers on Saturday will hand out educational booklets, show the difference between healthy soil and urine-polluted soil, and encourage local businesses to participate in the Sanitation Department's waste bin adoption program, Rotary Club president Kyla Williamson said.

Williamson's blitz comes after Rotary Club and Inwood I.S. 52 officials noticed that dog owners were letting their pets do their business in tree guard pits built around the Academy Street school by students.

The acid in dog urine burns the nutrients out of soil and can even corrode metal street lamps, Williamson explained, while dog feces can carry the deadly, blood-sucking parasite hookworm.

"If people are taking their dogs into the tree pits, they are very susceptible to developing this crazy little disease, and it can be fatal," said the local activist who was honored by the Parks Department last year as a top tree steward.

Rotary Club members and I.S. 52 members have already tried to dissuade pet owners from letting their dogs have a go at the trees, but they haven't seen much success yet.

"They're still messing around the trees," Williamson said.

The Rotary Club's efforts will coincide with Saturday's annual I.S. 52 street fair and will begin at 9:20 a.m. in the school auditorium with a public information session about diseases communicable among dogs. Rotary Club members will then participate in the annual street festival parade along Broadway from Academy to Isham streets.

After that, Rotary Club members will take to the streets in three groups. One will pass out educational booklets, another will show off the difference between healthy soil and urine-polluted soil and another will carry applications for the city's Million Trees NYC and trash bin adoption initiatives.

Williamson said she hopes the group can make locals understand their actions affect the community.

"A lot of people think that dog poop is like cow poop, and they don't understand that cows are herbivores and dogs are carnivores." Williamson said.

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