August 9, 2020

Letter to the Editor: Poop Isn’t Pretty … So Let’s Make a New Year’s Resolution To Pick It Up

To the Editor:

I am writing in part to fulfill a promise to a daughter. Our daughter Erin arrived for the Christmas holidays from North Carolina with an adolescent Hungarian vizsla pup. She walked Daisy a few times each day; and always with a doggie waste disposal bag in her pocket.

She commented on the large amount of pet waste that she encountered on her walks and wondered why Old Lyme hasn’t required, – or at least encouraged – pet owners to “police” their dog’s waste. I do not know that this problem is widespread or endemic in our town, nor will I attempt to quantify the issue. It is noticeable.        

I assume that residents are largely cleaning up after their pets. However, the (hopefully) minority of dog owners who are so discourteous to their neighbors that they don’t bother to bag and dispose this waste, are leaving an unsightly and unhealthy memorial of their pet’s exercise.

Erin’s professional career has been principally in Boston/ Cambridge, MA and the United Kingdom. These places have longstanding strongly enforced ordinances regarding removal and disposal of pet waste. So, she may react to such misbehaviors earlier than many would.

I am not advocating that Old Lyme enact an ordinance regarding pet waste. Rather, I feel that we should communicate the problem better and continue with our Tennessee Williams – type approach to  resolution i.e., with apologies to T.W., we should always depend on the kindness of neighbors.

The problem is not insignificant; dog mess is not only an eyesore, but also a health hazard.

In the extreme, according to the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), dog waste is a major pollutant and contaminant of the water supply. It is a serious health issue.

In fact, it is estimated that 1/3 of all water contamination is a result of dog waste run off entering streams and leaching into underground well water. The EPA deemed dog waste a “non-point source of pollution”, which puts it in the same category as oil and toxic chemicals. So, picking up after your pet every single time is important.

I’ll summarize the “How”: Always carry a plastic bag with you when you walk your dog.  Using the bag like a glove, you pick up the waste, turn the bag inside out around the waste, tie it in a knot and dispose of it in a trash can. 

Repurposed supermarket fresh produce bags work well. Lacking those, dog waste pickup bags are available in many  stores and online. Note: do not put this waste  in your home compost pile because it may contain parasites, bacteria, pathogens, and viruses that are harmful to humans which may not be destroyed by composting.   Those interested in digging down further into procedural details should look at:


Thomas D. Gotowka,
Old Lyme.


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