Plastic doggy poop bags properly disposed in the trash is the most effective and sanitary way to clean up after dog poop. (Photo by Christa Rolls, USAG Bavaria DPW, Environmental Division)


By Christa Rolls, USAG Bavaria Environmental Division


GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — Residents of U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria housing areas have recently expressed concerns about pet waste being left in community green spaces.


In one year, a dog can produce nearly 400 pounds of poop, which is equivalent to the weight of a full piano. With thousands of dogs in the USAG Bavaria region, cleaning up pet waste saves hundreds of tons of poop from piling up in our streets, parks and yards.


The safest and most effective way to dispose of pet waste is to use plastic doggy bags to pick up the dog poop and throw it in the trash, followed by a thorough hand washing. Do not attempt to compost or flush pet waste.


Doggy bags can be readily purchased in the pet section at most local grocery stores, and at the installation Commissary or Post Exchange.


Cleaning up pet waste has a number of benefits, including making yards and green spaces more usable for children and adults, preventing dogs from becoming ill if they eat feces, and controlling flies and other insects that are attracted to or live on fecal matter.


Pet owners will also avoid local ordinance fines, which can be as high as 70 euro per infraction.


Here is the scoop on why picking up dog poop is important for human and environmental health:


  • Different kinds of bacteria, viruses and parasites are readily found in pet waste. Giardia, roundworm, salmonella and E. Coli, for example, live in the ground for years and can cause serious gastrointestinal issues.


  • Properly eradicating harmful bacteria found in pet feces requires specialized processing and heating systems. Municipal waste water treatment facilities and septic systems are not designed to handle added pet waste. Reduced water quality makes aquatic recreational activities, such as fishing and swimming, potentially hazardous, especially if water is ingested.


  • Dog poop takes as long as one year to fully break down, especially in colder environments such as the greater Bavarian region. This means poop quickly piles up near sidewalks and green spaces if not removed.


  • The protein-rich food that dogs consume adds excess nutrients to the ecosystem, negatively affecting water quality and the plants and animals that depend on water, including humans.


It is best to always carry doggy bags and immediately scoop the poop for proper disposal. However, if pet owners are on a back country hike far from trash cans, for example, it is possible to bury the waste according to Leave No Trace standards: bury it without a plastic bag in a 6- to 8-inch deep hole at least 200 feet from a water source.


For more information on environmental safety, visit the USAG Bavaria Environmental Division online.