The dog poodemic is a crisis that has risen from increased ownership of dogs over the past year. The series of lockdowns that characterized 2020, contributed to increased “puppy madness” as hundreds of families opted to buy puppies to keep themselves entertained and eliminate the boredom associated with the pandemic. The story of the dog poodemic originally appeared in an article published on Wired that described the crisis as a dog poodemic. The term was formulated when bags of pets’ excrement started appearing everywhere. The bags of dog poop could be seen on sidewalks with others being hanged on trees. The dog poodemic is essentially a plague of stinking and unsightly dog poop.
Cause of the Poodemic
The new owners who bought their puppies at the peak of lockdown have not been practicing the same pet-hygiene behaviors as the old owners. Instead of using proper waste disposal practices, they have been leaving their pets’ wastes just about anywhere. Individuals who have contributed to the dog poodemic leave their dog poop to be collected by either the local authorities or community members who are concerned about the state of their environment. In the article published in “Wired” other countries such as Australia had also experienced the same problem. In an interview published by Andrew Coleman, who runs a website that campaigns against poor disposal of dog waste, stated that UK has approximately 9 million dogs, which contribute to about 3,000 tons of dog waste daily.
Effects of the Dog Poodemic
Increased risk of Infections – The arising issue of the dog poodemic is likely to impact people’s health negatively. Accumulation of animal waste in streets can contribute to health and sanitation issues as the animal wastes can easily get mixed with water sources. Contamination of water sources can contribute to increased risks of infections like amoebic dysentery, typhoid, hepatitis A, and cholera. Young children, individuals with immunosuppressing conditions, and pregnant women would be at a higher risk of being infected. Aside from infections affecting humans, pets can also get and spread infections linked to poor sanitation among themselves. For instance, according to the Morris Animal Foundation, dogs can get leptospirosis after coming into contact with contaminated urine or water.
Land and Water Pollution – The poor disposal of dog poop associated with the “dog poodemic” can contribute to environmental pollution. While the excrement of animals like cows and chickens is considered good fertilizer for farms, dog poop is not a good source of fertilizer. Unlike cow dung, dog poop contains high levels of proteins due to its rich protein diet. The high levels of protein lead to the formation of acidic poop that can ruin a person’s backyard or lawn. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) categorizes dog poop under the same list as herbicides, insecticides, oil, grease, and toxic chemicals. According to the EPA, pet waste adds harmful bacteria to local waters, which can contribute to an overgrowth of algae and weeds or make the water murcky and smelly. Its acidic content can leave a person’s lawn with acidic burns and discolorations caused by the bleaching effect of the poop. Accumulation of excess dog poop in the environment can create an environmental hazard.
Air pollution – Poor disposal of dog wastes can contribute to air pollution caused by the unpleasant smell coming from the dog waste. In the case of the existing problem of the dog poodemic, the excessive disposal of dog waste within the community over the past few months has contributed to the development of unpleasant smells and air pollution.
Robots and Drones – In the article published by Wired regarding the growing problem of dog poodemic, Mark Cridge who is the CEO of “mySociety” that runs an app for mapping and reporting street problems stated that the issues could be resolved by using robots and drones to detect and collect dog poop from the streets. The dog poodemic issues are bound to get worse if proper measures are not taken to address the problem. According to Mark Cridge, the idea of using robots and drones would ease the burden placed on local authorities and councils, who are constantly trying to reduce the burden associated with maintaining the cities. As such, the local authorities often do not have enough funds to address such communal issues. The implementation of this solution could improve the disposal of dog poop in the affected cities. While Mark Cridge’s waste control idea could potentially resolve the problem of dog poodemic and reduce the health risks of the impact of dog waste on the environment, his suggestion overlooked the need to make dog owners responsible for managing their pets’ waste.
Owning Up to Waste Disposal Responsibilities – Individuals such as Andrew Coleman, who have been advocating for proper animal waste disposal practices keep track of articles and data on the internet about dog waste disposal. His organization and campaigns also advocate for proper dog waste disposal by dog owners. Addressing dog owners’ behavior of disposing dog poop on sidewalks or hanging the papers filled with the waste on trees will also reduce the impact of the poodemic on the environment. A combined implementation of the proposed solutions could significantly improve the state of the affected cities. If dog owners adhere to proper dog waste disposal regulations and the drones and robots are used to collect the wastes from bins located across the neighborhoods, the issue of dog poodemic could be resolved. Addressing the problem could reduce the risks of future health-related implications associated with the poodemic.
The isolation and loneliness associated with the lockdown that most countries faced in 2020 contributed to increased interest in owning a dog. The dog poodemic is an actual problem that has emerged from increased ownership of dogs among families. Poor disposal of dog poop by dog owners has contributed to increased disposal of dog poop in sidewalks and just about anywhere. Dog owners need to be more responsible when disposing their pets’ waste.