Classified alongside pollutants from vehicles, pesticides, and more, pet waste is considered highly toxic and a nearly never-ending nuisance in community associations.
“Not only is dog waste unsightly and unpleasant, it can be dangerous if it’s not properly removed,” says Diana Kavadias of pet waste removal service DoodyCalls. “The waste contains harmful bacteria associated with disease, such as salmonella, e. coli, giardia, and campylobacteriosis, which, if left to accumulate on our streets or public areas without proper removal, can be spread to other animals and humans.”
The problem isn’t unique to community associations.
Miami Beach has launched an educational campaign to keep Biscayne Bay clean and free of dog waste. The campaign aims to spread awareness about just how damaging uncollected waste is to the ocean. When left on the streets, rain collects the waste and carries it into the sea, polluting the water with harmful bacteria. This, in turn, kills off sea grass and other aquatic plants, as well as the animals that rely on them, such as manatees. Though many are unaware of the hazard, Miami Beach’s new campaign, Don’t Be Ruff on the Bay, aims to fix that through posters and signage, educating residents on the issue and encouraging waste cleanup.
Like Miami Beach, communities need to address the risks of pet waste to ensure the safety of the environment and community members.
Adrienne Brewer, a manager with Aperion Management Group, AAMC, in Oregon, recommends the following strategies:
- Establish a policy and educate residents. Have clear-cut regulations and rules surrounding removal of pet waste and how the rules are enforced. There are several ways to educate residents. You can discuss pet waste during an open board meeting, publish a statement in your newsletter, send out information via email, or post information to the community website. By bringing awareness to the issue, you provide residents an opportunity to address it before the association intervenes.
- Send a courtesy notice or violation. If you know whose animals are responsible for the uncollected dog poop, send the residents a formal letter. Some associations choose to implement DNA testing in their communities. Animals register and their DNA is stored so that samples found in uncollected waste can be matched and appropriate fines can be assessed to the owner’s account. This option can be costly, but it is accurate and effective.
- Install waste stations and send reminders. Make it convenient and easy for owners to pick up. Having pet waste stations located in high traffic areas will provide residents with no excuse. A sign or flyer also can help remind residents and visitors alike that there are rules and regulations in place.
- Hire a pet waste removal service. A professional cleaning service will ensure that someone is responsible for picking up and properly disposing of the uncollected pet waste on a regular basis. Alternatively, if you have on-site maintenance staff, ask that they monitor and service any high traffic areas or problem spots.
- Offer pet-friendly amenities. Some communities find that it can be easier to keep things tidy when dog owners are directed to one general location, such as a dog park. Just make sure the area is properly outfitted with waste stations and plenty of poop-scooping bags. Often, the peer pressure from seeing other dog owners clean up is enough. Having amenities where dogs can play and burn some of their energy also helps reduce issues seen when dogs get bored, such as excessive barking and property damage.
Communities should try to manage their pet waste issues as soon as they arise. Doing so reduces conflict, improves property values, and ensures a healthier environment.