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Dog Poop Disposal: the Good, the Bad and the Neighborly

In response to a spirited conversation on the Nextdoor app about whether it’s acceptable to drop a bulging, smelly poop bag in another resident’s trash can, The Tampa Bay Times decided to elevate the question well above the court of popular opinion. Balancing the lighthearted absurdity of dog feces with the serious issue of neighborliness, they consulted professional ethicists on whether dog parents have a moral obligation to take a bag of sh*t all the way home instead of slipping it quietly into someone else’s nearby residential trash can – let alone our personal least-favorite, slinging it into bushes.

Who could have guessed, when developing the dooloop, that it’d lead to a deep dive into the moral philosophies about dog poop disposal decisions? Life is odd.

After reading the article, it didn’t take me long to think of other poo-related moral dilemmas. What would you do, about doo? Here are 4 ethical questions about how we dispose of dog poop…and my simple suggestion to resolve (almost) all of them.

Some ask, is it OK to leave a full poop bag behind, and pick it up again on my way home?

The question, is it really wrong to set your properly bagged poop down alongside the trail or sidewalk when you genuinely plan to pick it up again? After all, no one wants to lug warm, smelly poop bag along when your dog drops a deuce only a few seconds into a long walk.

“Yes, it is wrong! Leave no poop behind.” The dooloop answer is a simple fix. For the love of dog, don’t put that shit down.

To wit, when your gift-wrapped nugget of waste sits in random surroundings, you annoy and frustrate the walkers who come behind you. “Is the bag abandoned,” they wonder, “or just in a holding pattern?” I’ve seen passing dogs pee on ‘orphaned’ bags to leave their own scent mark. Do you really want to pick up a peed-on bag? Uber-responsible dog parents are going to feel obligated to pick up what you left behind. And even if they don’t, the enjoyment of their peaceful walk has been tarnished, and you’ve become ‘that person’ in their brain.

Then there’s the very real possibility that you will forget to pick it up again, am I right? Despite good intentions, your bag likely will languish along with the growing number of bags from other well-intentioned but forgetful dog walkers. Sooner or later a park worker or community volunteer will be stuck with the disgusting task of gathering up everyone else’s abandoned, clammy, smelly poo-filled bags.

For dog owners who wield a dooloop, this question isn’t even worth pondering. You simply sling that bag into the dooloop attached to your dog’s leash, you never have to touch it again until you get home.

Long walk? No problem. Moral dilemma avoided with the help of a little dooloop.

Is it OK to put my dog poop bag in someone else’s trash?

This is the question that intrigued the Tampa Bay Times. Some Nextdoor app users felt that the only real unethical decision is failing to bag up dog poop.  If the bag and poop make it into a waste can – even if it’s their neighbor’s waste can – they’ve been a good citizen. Others pointed out that a non-poo-producing neighbor shouldn’t have to suffer with the scent of sh*t baking in their sun-heated bin until garbage day. They believed that dog parents are responsible for their poo from the point of doggie discharge, all the way to a public bin or home to their own.

There’s no dilemma to discuss if you are packing a dooloop! You’ll stop noticing that you are even lugging poop once the bag is zipped through the plastic loop. There’s no need to unload early at someone’s private waste can. The only heat you pack is the poop, and no one else gets angry.

Is it OK to leave dog poop if it’s on my own property or where no humans are likely to step in it?

Here’s a question even the most responsible dog parents ponder. If your dog does their duty at the edge of the lawn around your rural home, or well off the path in a nature area, is it really so bad if you let it lie? Who’s to see or care?

Environmental ethicists would have a quick answer to this one (at least those who have studied the science of sh*t). Even if you can’t see it, poop piles up, especially along trails frequented by lots of dog-walkers or around the skinny edge of your yard where your dog poops twice a day or more.

Dog poop is rich in nitrogen and phosphorus. Many ecosystems are naturally low-nutrient environments and don't benefit from extra fertilization. Some of the plants that love more nutrient-rich soil are invasive species like honeysuckle, lesser celandine, and garlic mustard. Dog-poop nutrients can help them spread, choking out native plants that insects and animals need to survive. Reducing biodiversity is just one of many reasons dog poop is bad for the environment.

Your dooloop dissolves this dilemma for those walks on a remote nature trail. However, I totally get why you might feel that bagging poop at home just to carry it a few yards to your own garbage can is the waste of a lot of poop bags. In that case, consider composting your pet’s poop. There are lots of easy-to-install options, and you can read about them in my blog post here. You can also use that faithful standby, the shovel or pooper-scooper, every few days. Dump that bigger pile of doo into a reused paper grocery bag, roll it closed, and put it in your outside trash. Or hire a pooper-scooper company. They’ll be happy to do your “dooty.”

Although the dooloop only gets halfsies on this issue, backyard dog poop is a resolvable environmental dilemma.

Is it OK to use dog poop to get back at someone?

We’ve all heard the tales of poop being wielded as a weapon for vengeance:

  • One neighbor is mad at another and expresses their anger with a big bag of dog doo stuffed into their neighbor’s mailbox.
  • A homeowner is fed up with their neighbor’s dog pooping on their lawn every day and waits until the dead of night to return all of the offending offal to the dog parent’s own yard or sidewalk in a big, stinky pile.
  • A person who is annoyed that their neighbor is supporting a political candidate they despise smears dog poop on the candidate’s sign staked in the neighbor’s front yard.

When angry folks want to send the message, “you stink,” sometimes they say it with dog poop.

Unfortunately, the dooloop can’t solve this one, unless (maybe) you present a brand new dooloop as a peace offering to initiate a civil conversation with your neighbor about keeping their dog’s business on their own lawn.

Doo good with your dooloop.

Anyway, reading that Times article made me smile. I hope you’ll read it, too, and see that being neighborly outweighs a bag of poop, any day.

If you don’t have a dooloop, you can streamline your ethical decision-making by purchasing some from our site (or wherever they are sold in stores locally.  It’s always good to have an extra for your back-up leash – or as a conversation starter to give to people who still need some convincing when it comes to taking care of their dog’s business.

Keep your dooloop close by and pick up your poo. It’s the right thing to do.

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