Be an H2O Hero and your dog’s best friend.
Keep pet waste out of our water.
There are over 50,000 dogs in Washtenaw County; their waste is not suitable for compost or fertilizer. It can carry diseases and bacteria, which are unsafe for humans. When it rains, bacteria from pet waste washes directly into storm drains and drainage ditches and eventually into our waterways . . . untreated.
Pet waste contains several types of pollutants that contribute to water quality problems: nutrients, pathogens and a naturally toxic material, ammonia. When pet waste ends up in a stream river, it decomposes, using up oxygen and releasing its pollutant load. During summer months when the water is warm, the combination of low oxygen levels and ammonia can kill fish and other aquatic organisms. The nutrients cause excessive growth of aquatic weeds and algae, like the algae blooms you see at Gallup Pond or Ford Lake, making water murky green, smelly and unappealing to swimmers, boaters and fishers.
What can you do?
Be an example. Make your dog proud.
Scoop it, bag it and pitch it in the trash every time!
Be Prepared. Carry disposable bags.
Advice from local dog owners:
- Carry extra bags to share with your friends.
- Buy bag “caddies” and attach them to all of your leashes.
- Keep bags in your coat pockets . . . the car . . . the garage . . . everywhere that might add convenience.
- Take a mini flashlight to help with nighttime pick-ups.
Spread the word.
Educate others about how stormwater can wash untreated pet waste right into our waterways. Think of friendly ways to start a conversation to tell others how they might change their behavior to help protect our rivers and streams. “Excuse me. Did you drop something?” “Oh, here, I have an extra baggie for you and your dog.” “Did you know…?”
What about kitty litter?
Kitty litter dumped outside can be washed into streams. When cleaning out the litter box, a 2-step approach is best. Cat waste may be scooped out and flushed down the toilet. The used kitty litter should be bagged and pitched in the trash.
It’s the law.
Most communities have local ordinances about pet waste pick up. Avoid fines. Report violators.
Pet medications and sharps are pet waste too!
Pet waste can also be generated from excess or unused medications. In fact, increasing amounts of prescription drugs and personal care products are being detected in rivers, waterways, and groundwater. Wastewater treatment facilities are not equipped to “filter out” these chemicals, so drugs like antidepressants, cholesterol reducers and antibiotics are being detected in drinking water supplies. The risk to humans and animals of long-term exposure to these contaminants in drinking water is unknown. So, please don’t flush ‘em.
Handle, store, dispose of medications properly.
The Pharmaceutical Take-Back Program allows Washtenaw County residents to take back their old unwanted medications to a pharmacy to be properly disposed – for FREE. Check www.dontflushdrugs.com to find a list of participating pharmacies and a complete list of what can be taken back.
Otherwise, wrap containers in duct tape and several layers of plastic bags before putting them in your trash.
“Sharps” are the syringes or needles used to administer pet medication. Each day 5,000 sharps are used to treat Washtenaw County pets. Sharps waste is classified as biohazardous waste and must be carefully handled.
Improperly discarded sharps, needles and syringes, can injure family members, waste and recycling workers, or end up in places where they are a danger to the public, such as beaches. Washtenaw County’s Department of Environmental Health encourages the purchase of a sharps container whenever sharps are purchased. When filled, these puncture resistant containers can be sealed shut and taken to a participating pharmacy, clinic or Home Toxics Collection Center.
Go to www.dontflushdrugs.com for a list of sharps drop off locations.
Wash pets indoors . . .
in a bathtub or sink using less toxic shampoos, or consider having your pet professionally groomed. Even when biodegradable, pet shampoos can be toxic to humans.
Excess pet supplies.
Donate your unneeded items to a local animal shelter or pet care provider. Most have a list of needed items and guidelines on their websites. CLICK HERE to see details on supplies the Humane Society of Huron Valley accepts.
Outreach Program Partners
Our thanks the communities who funded this program and the pet supply and service providers who are helping us to reach out to area pet owners.
Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner, City of Ann Arbor, Village of Dexter, City of Ypsilanti, Ypsilanti Township, Pittsfield Township
Animal Kingdom Veterinary Hospital, Ann Arbor Animal Hospital, Arbor Dog Daycare, Arbor Hills Pet Boarding, Arboroads, Blue Pearl of Michigan, Brookedale Grooming & Boarding, Brookeside Veterinary Hospital, Camp Bow Wow, Country Cat Clinic, Creature Comforts Bed and Bath, Green Pawz, Humane Society of Huron Valley, Huron Pet Supply, Manchester Veterinary Clinic, Quality Grooming, Pet Supplies Plus – Ann Arbor, PetSmart, Saline Veterinary Service, PC, Washtenaw Veterinary Hospital, University Aquarium, Wags to Whiskers Pet Supplies, West Arbor Animal Hospital, PC, Westgate Animal Clinic, Ypsilanti Animal Clinic, PC
Download additional H2O Hero Awards
To identify and recognize H2O heroes at home or in your office, download our award certificate.
Pet stations for community parks: Chandler, AZ enlists local Eagle Scouts to construct low-cost refillable pet stations in community parks. See entire article.
Julie Winters of Portland Oregon’s River Network Details of a Pet Waste Station Community Program, by Julie Winters of Portland Oregon’s River Network
The EPA’s Nonpoint Pollution Source Outreach Toolbox