Pickup dog waste top

Would you like to swim in a pool surrounded by dog poop? No? Come on, a little dog poop does not hurt, does it? Not only is it yucky, it can make us and other animals sick. There are all sorts of nasty bacteria and worms in dog poop. Many of these are so small you can't even see them without a microscope.

Lucky for us, dogs don't like to poop in the water. The bad news is that lots of poop still ends up in our streams and waters because when dogs poop on the grass, rain washes the poop down into the street then down the storm drain. And those storm drains lead right down into our streams and bayous.

So next time you take your dog for a walk, take a bag with you to pick up their poop. Your neighbors will love you for it, and you help keep the water safe for fishing and swimming.


Major Source of Bacteria in Urban Watersheds

Dog poop is one of the top five largest contributors of bacteria contamination in urban watersheds (USA Today, 2002).

Escherichia coli at 10,000 X Magnification - Photo by Eric Erbe

10 Million Tons of Dog Poop Per Year

The 83 million pet dogs in the US produce over 10 million tons of poop per year: enough to fill up semi-trucks stretching from Boston to Seattle (LiveScience, 2014).

Photo by PRA CC BY 2.5

Adenovirus, parvovirus, giardia, coccidia, roundworm, and tapeworm

These are just a start of the long list of bad bugs and worms that can make us sick when we are exposed to pet waste (USA Today, 2002).

Dog Poop Leads to Nutrient Pollution

Large amounts of dog poop washed into storm drains isn't a good thing. Dog poop is full of nitrogen, a nutrient that stimulates the growth of algae and weeds in the water that can kill fish. Find more about nutrient pollution (EPA Factsheet).

Fish Kill from Karenia Brevis - Photo: Alison Robertson, Ph. D.

Things You Can Do

Bring a Bag

Use biodegradable bags to pick up pet waste. You can even keep the bags wrapped on your leash. Pick up the poop, tie up the bag, then throw the bag in a trash can.

Reuse Shopping Bags

Shopping bags, bread bags, and those bags that the newspaper is delivered in make great poop bags.

Toss the Bag

Remember to throw the bag in a trash!

Flush Dog Poop Down the Toilet

Throw Dog Poop down the toilet (but don't flush the bag!)

Talk About Your Dog

Talk about your dog and dog poo in school as assignment or at church and Sunday School.

Get Bag Dispensers At School and Your Neighborhood

Ask your parents and teachers to help you set up a dog poop bag program at your school. If your school already has bag stations, volunteer to keep them filled.



Don't Step On Poo (iOS) App for iPhone, iPad and other iOS devices

Don't Step On Poo (Android) Free app for Android devices through Amazon

The Dog Poop Initiative

This book is inspired by a true story when the author was acting as an assistant coach to his 5-year-old son’s soccer team. When they show up to the field, there is a pile of dog poop in the playing area… it has been there through two other teams playing on the field. Finally, someone with shows up and instead of avoiding the poop, they clean it up.

Do You Scoop The Poop?

Produced by RI Stormwater Solutions with support from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management

Related Actions

Get On The Water

Getting out on the water is not only fun and great exercise, the more you use the water, the more likely it is you'll think about protecting it. So go ahead, go for a swim, get your fishing pole, take a boat for a ride, or attend a water festival near you.

Trash In The Trash

In a rainy place like the Gulf coast, litter and plastic debris is easily washed into storm drains and from there into our streams, bay and Gulf. Making sure our trash gets into trash cans to be processed by city services, helps keep our water clean.

Do the Trash Mob Dance

The Trash Mob Dance is a simple dance that helps teach the importance of putting trash in a trash receptical and picking up trash you see on the ground.

Types of Pollution

When water rushes off hardened surfaces, erosion of sediments degrade water conditions and smother and disrupt seagrass growth and the habitat for benthic organisms they provide.

Compounds like oil, grease, and heavy metals take a long time to break down and threaten the health of both aquatic and human life.

Litter is not only unsightly, but it also causes a variety of problems to the ecosystem as it enters our waters where it is often is mistaken for food by fish and invertebrates.

Too much fertilizer, pet waste, and other nutrients in our water often lead to serious problems like lowering dissolved oxygen levels, preventing seagrass growth, and killing fish.

Disease-causing microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, and other single-celled organisms, are referred to as pathogens, some, like Salmonella, cause human health problems.

While pesticides are designed to be toxic to certain organisms, they can often be harmful and kill other species in the marine system that are important for the entire ecosystem.