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'Pick Up Pet Poop' Signs Popping Up Citywide — Why Is This Even Necessary?

By Patty Wetli | September 6, 2016 5:13am | Updated on September 9, 2016 10:50am

IRVING PARK — In response to a request from constituents, Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) announced that his office will now provide free yard signs that promote "responsible pet ownership."

In place of handmade passive- and not-so passive-aggressive, "I don't poop in your yard, don't let your dog poop in mine" notices, residents can now avail themselves of the 35th Ward's officially sanctioned placards, which get the job done in a good-cop, bad-cop kind of way.

"Please, pick up after your pet." (Good cop, asking nicely.)

"It's the law." (Bad cop, threatening $500 fine.)

The 35th Ward is making these signs available to constituents. [35th Ward]

Here's our question: Why are these signs necessary in the first place?

Anyone adopting a dog, as opposed to some other form of "fur baby," does so with the full knowledge that pooches aren't potty trained, nor do they use litter boxes.

And, yet, according to an oft-cited statistic from the Environmental Protection Agency, approximately 40 percent of dog owners don't pick up after their pooch.

German scientist Matthias Gross observed this phenomenon in his seminal study (we are not making this up), "Natural waste: canine companions and the lure of inattentively pooping in public."

In a major case of stating the obvious, Gross noted: "Unlike other nonhuman animals, pet dogs are often walked to public places for the sole reason to defecate."

Gross' summary of owners "strategies when dealing with excrement while walking their dogs" boiled down to: 1. Picking it up only when observed; 2. Picking it up but then tossing the bagged poop anywhere but a trash bin; and 3. Ignoring it.

According to Pet Poo Skiddoo, a business that specializes in pet waste removal, the most common excuses for not picking up poop are: no one will see it, the owner forgot to bring a bag and, our personal favorite, it's gross.

Darn right it's gross. That's why the rest of us don't want dog poop on our sidewalks, alleys, parks, parkways and especially not the bottom of our shoes.

If it seems like we're making a mountain out of a turd hill, here are a few icky facts about dog poop:

• Just one dog produces roughly 275 pounds of waste per year. There are more than 70 million dogs in the U.S. If 40 percent of pet owners aren't picking up poop, what's that add up to? We tried to do the math and our iPhone calculator lost its mind. The answer was 7.7e9, which we interpreted as "holy crap!"

• Stop with the charade that dog poop acts as a fertilizer. It's not remotely helpful to soil or any other living thing. In fact, the EPA had deemed dog poop as toxic as chemical and oil spills.

• Not only does dog poop not break down, it's loaded with pathogens, carrying diseases including heartworms, whipworms, hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms, parvovirus, giardia, salmonella and E. coli. To kill these germs, you'd need to place the poop in a container and keep it at a temperature of at least 165 degrees for at least five days.

• Instead, the poop is leaching into the ground and eventually reaching water sources, where it's the third most common cause of pollution. Bonus fun fact: Only 5 percent of fecal matter in water is human.

So, to reiterate, "Please, pick up after your pet."

Ald. Ramirez-Rosa is making the signs available for free to constituents — the 35th Ward encompasses portions of Albany Park, Irving Park, Avondale and Logan Square — during regular office hours, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 2710 N. Sawyer Ave.

But if handmade is more your style ...

This. A million times, this. [dogguide.net]

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