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Doo-ty Calls! Calgarian Takes Action To Solve Poo-llution Problem

Calgary resident Tara Duncan, a local sign maker, is on a mission to clean up the city with her colourful sign campaign

Spring is a beautiful time of year, defined by singing birds and budding flowers. 

But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows at Sue Higgins Park in Calgary’s southeast. 

The snow that covered the park’s large off-leash areas has melted, revealing a minefield of dog poop. One wrong step can ruin your day or your favourite pair of shoes. 

Tara Duncan with one of her signs | Global Calgary | X

The park’s poop problem is the consequence of dog owners not picking up after their pups. 

Calgary resident and dog owner Tara Duncan hopes to solve this problem with her colourful sign campaign.

Duncan runs Sign Gypsies, a local sign company that creates custom signs. Duncan is using her sign-making skills to encourage dog owners to pick up after their pets.

“I usually do birthday signs and graduations and it’s a slow time of year. So I thought, why not put up a fun sign, make people smile and hopefully they can realize that they need to clean up after their dogs,” Duncan told Global News.

Duncan’s signs read ‘clean up your poop,’ with a ‘thank you, from the dogs.’ 

Dog graphics are spread across the sign to make it eye-catching to park visitors. 

Duncan has set up signs at other dog parks across the city and has spoken with dog owners. 

Many of the people Duncan spoke with also have questioned why some dog owners don’t pick up after their dogs. 

There are many reasons why dog owners might not pick up their dogs’ poop. 

Did you know dogs prefer to poop while facing north-south? | Paul Prescott | Live Science
Did you know dogs prefer to poop while facing north-south? | Paul Prescott | Live Science

More Serious Than You Think

Some people don’t pick up after their dogs because they think poop is natural and will disappear on its own. 

This reasoning is often used as an excuse to avoid the gross but necessary part of dog ownership. 

Unfortunately, dog poop doesn’t magically disappear.

In some cases, dog poop can take up to a year to fully decompose.

During that time, the poop is an environmental hazard that carries many bacteria, parasites, and other diseases that can be transmitted to humans

Dog poop also pollutes water bodies like creeks, rivers, and lakes. 

Dog waste contains nitrogen and phosphorus, which can lead to toxic algae blooms. These blooms consume oxygen in the water, killing fish, plants, and other wildlife. 

Dog poop that is left behind during the winter is especially problematic. 

Come springtime, the poop buried in the snow gets flushed into watersheds through runoff.

Now imagine three months worth of frozen dog poop rapidly melting as the temperatures rise. It doesn’t just smell like poop; it smells like trouble!

Dog poop that isn’t picked up also attracts coyotes and rodents, which can lead to unwanted and potentially dangerous wildlife encounters.

Incredible infographic detailing the effects of dog poop on the environment | Proud Dog Mog

Just Doo-Doo It!

One person not picking up after their dog might seem insignificant, but it is a major problem, considering that 40 percent of people don’t pick up after their dogs. 

There were about 8 million pet dogs in Canada in 2022. On average, dogs poop ¾ pounds of waste each day.

That’s six million pounds of poop every day and almost a million tonnes annually! You would need about 27,000 semi-trucks to carry all that poop!

However, these numbers assume every Canadian doesn’t pick up after their pet. 

Fortunately, that’s not the case.

Based on the 40 percent of dog owners that don’t pick up after their pets, you would still need over 11,100 semi-trucks to deal with all that crap!

Picking up after our pooches benefits everyone. And Calgary is experimenting with composting doggie-doo so that your trees can benefit as well.

While the initiative of people like Duncan is admirable, we shouldn’t need pretty signs and obvious reminders to convince us to clean up our pups’ messes.

We get it. Picking up dog poop is gross.

But there are many tools available to make the experience as easy as possible, like pooper scoopers and compostable bags.

Unless you forgot a baggie, there’s no excuse not to clean up after your pup, and even then, go get a bag and come back and deal with the mess. 

Let’s do our part to keep our parks clean and our watersheds safe.

Semi trucks are capable of carrying up to 80,000 pounds | Knight Transportation
Semi trucks are capable of carrying up to 80,000 pounds | Knight Transportation

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