One thing I have noticed on the daily walks around my neighborhood is the completely ridiculous amount of dog poop on the roads and trails. It’s not like I’m part of the solution. I refuse to wear a diaper. I depend entirely upon humans to clean up my mess. Clearly, some of you are doing better than others.

According to the Town of Truckee’s Scoop the Poop Program, there are 3,000 licensed dogs and an estimated 1,500 guest/unlicensed dogs in Truckee. The average dog produces 274 pounds of waste annually. The town estimates that in one year, all the dogs in Truckee produce 800,000 pounds of poop. If we include North Lake Tahoe and surrounding areas, we are easily over one million pounds. That’s a lot of poop. Just thinking about it makes me want to swim in one of our lakes. Now, I am just a dog, but common sense tells me all that poop can’t be good for us. It’s not. Pet waste contains various bacteria that cause gastrointestinal illness as well as roundworm in people. Poop also runs into streams and promotes weed and algae growth that can affect fish and other aquatic animals, as well as water quality. There are a lot of other gross things about dog poop. You can step in it and get it all over your shoes. Cross-country skiing in it is not as much fun as skiing in actual snow. It smells bad too, and it can really ruin the atmosphere on a nice walk.

There are currently no ordinances in Truckee, Nevada County, or Placer County in regards to pet waste. Washoe County, which includes Reno and the East Shore, “requires dog walkers to carry a suitable instrument for the removal and disposal of dog feces and to remove it immediately.” First-time offenders face a $100 fine. Officials in Washoe County indicate that it is difficult to catch offenders because by the time the poop is discovered the perpetrator is gone.

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Members of an apartment complex in New Hampshire and another in Texas think they have this problem solved. They require resident dogs to register their DNA. When poop is found in the complex, it is tested, and the offending residents are fined. There is even a company called Poo Prints that specializes in this technology.

This leads me to the solution for Tahoe. It’s actually quite simple. All we have to do is take DNA samples from every dog that enters California at the bug check. “Do you have any fruits, vegetables, or dogs? We are going to need a cheek swab from your Yorkie please, sir.” Sure the lines would be a little longer until we work the kinks out, but I am sure that people traveling on I-80 would understand. After all, we are saving the environment. The rest is so easy I can’t believe we haven’t done it already. Set up a lab in Truckee for testing the DNA samples and registering the dogs in a database. We could charge a toll at the bug check to pay for it or just add it on to property taxes. Why not? I’m dog. I don’t pay property taxes. Once all that’s done the town or some other local government agency with a budget in the black can hire a full-time person, give them a truck, and send them on poop patrol. We could rid Truckee and Tahoe of canine waste, improve our environment, and create jobs. I think it’s a win-win situation.

Until my solution can be fully implemented (and I fully expect it to be on the next town council agenda), please do your best to pick up after your pet. My family doesn’t always remember our bags, but we do our best. A woman I spoke with from Donner Lake who wished to remain anonymous called the problem “a plague.” At Donner, people don’t seem to have trouble putting the poop in bags; the problem is that they often leave it on the ground for the “poop fairy” to pick up. I haven’t met the poop fairy, but she has a lot of work to do around here. So until the bug check DNA database is complete, please pick up after your dog. Remember to bring bags. Many local parks provide them. Attach a few to your leash and stash some in the car, but beware of those plastic grocery bags. They almost always have holes in them. Watch where you step and have a great month.

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