Not a waste of time

Letter writer voices concerns about dog owners not picking up poop on area lakes

Editor,

Dogs? I love them and currently have the privilege of living with one of the most remarkable and intelligent dogs I have ever known.

Many dog owners feel the same way about their beloved pets. With the joy of having a dog, however, comes the unfortunate responsibility of having to clean up their waste.

In town, having to pick up your dog’s feces is mandatory, and subject to a fine if not observed.

However, many dog owners neglect to do this.

And when you’re out of town, perhaps taking a hike up Malkow Lookout, in the mountains, skiing the dog trails, you probably don’t even think about it (even though the Malkow Lookout trail traverses private property and there is a sign asking owners to pick up after their dog and Hudson Bay Mountain ski resort requests the same).

Skating on Tyhee Lake, Lake Kathlyn or Seymour Lake? Hey, the dogs are likely squatting somewhere behind you as you speed around on one of the loops being kept open by a few community-minded lake residents.

People might think that dog waste is “natural” like the waste from wild animals, but their poop is very different. Due to a dog’s stomach enzymes and their diets, their feces are one of the leading sources of E. Coli contamination in our lakes and rivers.

With just one gram of waste containing over 20 million E. Coli bacteria, which are known to cause cramps, diarrhea and serious kidney disorders in humans (Canadian Public Health Association).

Letting your dog poop without subsequently cleaning it up is equivalent to pouring a toxic substance on the ground or in the water.

In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency in the USA has classified pet waste as a dangerous pollutant in the same category as toxic chemicals.

Pet waste can spread parasites like hookworms, ringworms, tapeworms, salmonella and roundworm whose eggs can remain in the soil long after the feces have been washed away into our lakes and rivers.

More and more people have dogs. At last count, the dog population in Canada was 7.6 million (as of 2016), translating to over 2.5 million kilograms of dog waste per day (Municipal World, 2018). Dog waste and its disposal has become one of the leading challenges faced by many communities.

As a resident of Seymour Lake, the issue is literally in plain sight. On any given day when I’m either skating or skiing around the lake, I usually take a plastic bag and pick up what I find. Over Christmas hundreds of people came to skate around the lake and so many brought their dogs. Some cleaned up after them, but many did not.

Given that many lakeside residents and Hudson Bay Mountain road users drink the lake water and use it to brush their teeth or bathe their children, it’s like watching someone pour poison into the well.

I contacted the Regional District about this issue and Mark Fischer responded very quickly to our concerns. After successfully applying for a grant-in-aid, we have received enough funds to cover the cost of signs, proper pet bags, dispensers and waste receptacles to be placed at the public access points on Seymour Lake Road.

This is a pilot project; depending on its success (ie, dog owners’ compliance), they may also be installed at other lakes in the area.

Look for the dispensers which will be installed within a few weeks. There will be no excuses.

Please clean up after your dog!

Poppy Dubar

Concerned resident and Seymour Lake Conservation Society member

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