Why worry about dog waste?

  • Dog waste is a threat to our water.

  • Dog waste has 4 to 10 times more bacteria (bugs that can make you sick) than human waste, because dogs are built to eat anything and have a generous supply of intestinal bacteria.

  • Tallahassee has an estimated 43,500 dogs, at minimum, and they generate about 16 tons (32,000 pounds) of dog poop per day. If that many people were using the bathroom outside with no treatment, a public outcry would result.

  • When pet waste stays on the ground, runoff from rainstorms washes it into the storm sewers, and on to our lakes — NOT to a sewage treatment plant.

Why not focus on cats or wildlife?

  • Wild animals recycle the nutrients already present in the environment.  As dog owners, we import excess nutrients in the form of pet food into the environment where pets deposit it on the ground.
  • Wild animals are dispersed throughout the environment, while we concentrate our pets, and ourselves into urban areas.
  • Sixty percent of all dog owners walk their dogs—so clean up is easier and the neighborly thing to do!  It’s more sanitary and safer for the family and the environment for people to pick up their dog’s waste from their own fenced-in backyards (whether with plastic bags or inexpensive tools sold in pet-supply stores).  Some local companies now offer a pick-up service for residents that either don’t have the time or inclination. 
  • Cats bury their waste, making it less likely to affect runoff.
  • Neither the State nor the City suggests treating wildlife sources of waste, because the amount of bacteria in wildlife waste is very small compared to the amount found in dog waste.

The TAPP Program encourages you to think about your pet’s habits and do your part to help keep our water clean.  It may not seem like a big deal if one dog “contributes” waste to the neighborhood, but think of all the dogs out there.  Pet waste is one of those little problems that, when all the pieces are added together, can lead to serious water pollution. This is an important issue that affects us all.

As pet owners we each have an obligation to protect community water resources from the impact associated with pet ownership.  Pet waste is a controllable pollution source, especially in the eyes of parents whose kids play in local lakes and streams.  Education and awareness can make a difference.