Why Picking Up Doggie Doo-doo Is A Health Issue

My son Jake was 4 on the day I whispered to him, “The bathroom is really dirty, just go pee in the water.”

I watched as he ran to the ocean, turned around and raced back to me. You wouldn’t guess how many times he ran back and forth before he “did the deed.”

Am I condoning public contamination or could it actually be healthy for the environment? I know, I know … I’m stretching it.

I once had a client who argued a similar point when it came to his dog’s waste.

Mr. Jeffrey came in with his 1-year-old Labrador Bailey for an annual exam. Everything was going well until I mentioned the stool sample that we request with each visit.

“Sorry, Doc, I can’t help you there. You see, I don’t like to pick up Bailey’s poop. If I don’t pick it up then I can’t bring it in,” stated Mr. Jeffrey.

“And if you don’t pick it up, then your yard must be pretty aromatic,” I chided.

“Got that covered. Bailey rarely poops in our yard. I take him on his morning and evening walks and he usually poops along the way. I leave the disgusting pile where it is and just keep on moving. After all, it is biodegradable and serves a purpose as a natural fertilizer.”

I started to chuckle then realized that Mr. Jeffrey was serious.

“Mr. Jeffrey, I think you should start picking up after Bailey,” I said, intervening. “It’s the right thing to do. Dogs carry a variety of parasites that can be transmitted through their poop. These parasites can not only infect other dogs but they can infect people too.”

Mr. Jeffrey wanted to know more. “Doc, what type of parasites are you talking about?”

“Without going into a lot of detail, dog poop can carry eggs for roundworms, hook-worms, whipworms and tapeworms. We ask for a stool sample to test for these parasites and treat Bailey if he’s infected. In people, roundworms, for example, could cause blindness or migrate through internal organs causing other problems. Children in particular are at risk because they often play outside and may not wash their hands properly.”

As I concluded my short dissertation, I could tell that Mr. Jeffrey was a bit remorseful.

By the end of the visit, Mr. Jeffrey assured me that he would start picking up after Bailey.

He also promised to spread the word to other people with dogs.

Mr. Jeffrey saw the error of his ways.

As I reflect upon my recent interaction with my son, can I say the same?

After all, urine is mostly water with some electrolytes and a small amount of waste product. What harm could my son’s pee have on the environment? In total, Jake ran back and forth four times before he relieved himself.

Funny thing was, at our next stop he asked his mother to take him to the restroom. Jake faced a moral dilemma, chose wisely, and in the end taught his father a lesson.