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In the "Mews"

Owners reminded to scoop the poop: The tail end pet pourri

From the April 29, 2006 print edition of The St. Louis Post Dispatch
By Sarah Newman of The St. Louis Post Dispatch

This is not a joke, so no snickering, please. Pet owners need to be aware of National Pooper Scooper Week, April 24-30.

Reminding pet owners and guardians of their duty is why the Association of Professional Animal Waste Specialists – aka aPaws – created this commemorative occasion.

Cleaning up after your dog is not just the neighborly thing to do. In many municipalities, it’s the law.

Pet waste is more than a dirty, smelly nuisance; it can pose a health hazard to people as well as to other pets. Infections from roundworms, hookworms and other common parasites can be traced to the failure to clean up what pets have left behind. It has been reported that pet waste left on the ground for one week can infest the soil with more than 20 million roundworms eggs, which can survive for more than five years.

Children are at the greatest risk of infection because they are more likely to play in the dirt, and more likely to put their fingers in their mouths. But even adults playing Frisbee in an open area could be at risk.

“Pet waste also has a nasty effect on our environment,” says Tammy Tvetene of St. Louis Critter Sitters (, which added critter cleanup to its pet-sitting, dog-walking and in-home dog-training services earlier this month.

The run-off from pet waste adds to the pollution in urban waterways, Tvetene says. Pet waste may not be the biggest or most toxic pollutant, but it is one of many small sources that can have a large cumulative effect.

The good news is that cleanup is not the ugly business it used to be, thanks to the many creative scooping products available in pet-supply stores and catalogs and on the Web. The products run the gamut from litter bags in cute containers that attach to leashes to a variety of doggie-doo-adapted rakes, shovels and other scooping tools, not to mention a poop catcher that prevents the mess from ever hitting the ground (assuming you’re paying attention). There are also doggie septic tanks for the ultimate in sanitary disposal.

Those who’d rather wash their hands of the whole process can always employ professional scooping services, such as Critter Sitters. A list of such services by state is available on the aPaws Web site at

Republished with the permission of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
© 2006 St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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