Monday, March 12, 2012

Your Neighbor's Lawn Is Not a Dog Park

On Princeton Landing's March maintenance bill, the management company urged residents who own dogs to pick up after them. This has been an ongoing issue in the community. In the past, management asked us if they could post here about this problem. The fact is the dog situation is worse than ever in Princeton Landing—more dogs and fewer people picking up after them. In truth, people taking their dogs to ruin other's people's lawns is not very neighborly, but there's a lot more to it than that. Our dog-loving Nature Guide Jon Latimer weighs in with some important information.

"If you aren't worried about dog waste left around our homes, you should be. Over time, failure to properly dispose of dog droppings can set off a harmful cycle that can affect your whole family—including your pet. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a single gram of dog waste can contain 23 million fecal coliform bacteria (which includes E. coli), which can pass to humans. These bacteria are known to cause cramps, diarrhea, intestinal illness and serious kidney disorders in humans.

"In addition, dog poop can be infected with the eggs of certain roundworms and other parasites. If these eggs are deposited on our lawns, they can linger in the soil for years. Our lawns could harbor hookworms, ringworms and tapeworms as well as bacteria such as Salmonella and Cryptosporidium. Anyone who comes in contact with that soil, through gardening, playing sports or even just walking barefoot, runs the risk of contracting those diseases. Infections can cause fever, muscle aches, headache, vomiting and diarrhea in humans. Children are most susceptible since they often play in the dirt and put things in their mouths.

"Some people argue the pet waste eventually goes away, so why bother to pick it up? Others say that pet waste makes a good fertilizer, so why not leave it behind? Both of these claims are false! The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies pet waste in the same category as oil and toxic chemicals as a source of long-term pollution. Pet waste can migrate through drainage and runoff and pollute local watershed areas. And pet waste is actually toxic for our lawns, causing burns and unsightly discoloring.

"What can you do? You can pick up after your pet. As management has pointed out, it is not only the right thing to do, it is also required by Princeton Landing's bylaws and the ordinances of Plainsboro. And if you see someone who isn't being responsible, let the office know. We need to keep our lawns clean and safe."