Conservation is a "dirty job" as TV's Mike Rowe would say. But what job isn't? Most "clean jobs" are polluted by deadlines and unreal expectations, monotony and wage disputes, office politics, scope creep, moving goal posts, broken agreements, senseless rules, discrimination, not to mention the deterioration of health from sitting in a chair all day. Our Conservation Rangers can't clean up your job, but what we can do is restore the sanctity of your own backyard where Mother Earth provides a refuge and Nature can soothe your soul.

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Sgt. Poopers graphic of sunrise from our 2008 website.

Why I Scoop

Confessions of a Pet Waste noob

When I first heard about the dog waste removal business, I thought its main value would be in removing the risk of stepping in something. The hazards of dog poop, to me, meant the rigors of having to clean the bottoms of my running shoes with a stick. Growing up in Dallas, Texas I had never even heard of such a business.

Barefeet in healthy grassHowever, I did remember when the invention of the Pooper Scooper arrived in the '70s. My best friend's family bought one and he had to use it once a week. I was amused. I thought dog waste was just a natural part of the landscape that would dry up and just "disappear" and "become dirt" in a few days. It either dried out, got washed down, or mowed over.

Truthfully, I thought it was odd that my friend had to pick up dog poop. I chuckled about it. And when I saw the implement in his garage, I cringed. Dog poop, to me was just a minor environmental annoyance. I accepted it like I accepted yellow-jackets (wasps), droning cicadas and sidewalks so hot you couldn't walk on them bare-footed. It was a nuisance, but not one that required any action.

All that changed when I started researching the subject of dog waste removal.

"Non-Source Point" Pollution

Sgt. Poopers spearheads conservation at the neighborhood level.I didn't know that dog waste was the fourth leading cause of water pollution, classified by the EPA as a non-source point pollutant. I didn't know that one gram of dog waste contained some twenty million bacteria, germs, viruses, pathogens and parasites. I didn't know that, according to a Univ. of Arizona study conducted this year, just by walking through grass contaminated by dog poop, your shoes pick up hundreds of thousands of germs, and more than 90% of those germs transfer to floors in your home. Creepy.

I didn't know all that. And for good reason: it was not until recent advances in DNA testing in the mid 1990s that researchers were able to trace the origin of fecal matter in our lakes and streams to their common source, man's best friend.

The problem isn't really our loving pets, of course. Its been the misconceptions of dog owners, like me. That misconception began to rear it's head almost from the start. Manning our booth at the Whiterock Lake Festival in May '08, we met plenty of people who readily admitted they thought dog poop was "fertilizer."

Misconception: Dog Waste Is Not Fertilizer

sgt poopers sealIt's a common misconception. Simply enough, real fertilizer, or manure, only comes from animals that eat plants. The waste of herbivores consists is plants, so of course it is good for plants. Meat eaters, like humans and dogs, are different. You can't use their poop for fertilizer because it contains microbes by the billion. In fact, the Center for Disease Control warns that humans can get sick if they eat plants "fertilized" by dog waste because the plants can absorb the living microbes some of which take years to fully break down. Case in point, round worm eggs remain viable in the soil for 3 years and can infect humans or other dogs that come in contact with the soil.

And of course, the more you think about it, the more it all makes sense. For example, during recent floods authorities have made one thing very clear: don't drink the water. In fact, don't even step in it if possible. You can get infected if you have a cut anywhere on your skin. We have heard how it spread cholera, dysentery, and many other ills. And why is that water deadly? Fecal matter from humans and pets.

And so we started our public information campaign. We volunteered to do water testing in and around White Rock Lake and more. It's an important issue and one that every dog owner can do something about. Sgt Poopers® is committed to being the leader of the pack. Let's make Dallas a greener city.

Tags: dog waste removal, pooper scooping, Sgt Poopers, Dallas, Texas, Water Pollution, Soil Pollution, Biohazard

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