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Pooped from pet waste problem

My fiancé and I recently moved to the Sandy area from Washington with our two large dogs. We take responsible pet ownership very seriously and thus were shocked and dismayed to find that very few people in our neighborhood seemed to be picking up after their dogs.

As we walked our dogs around our neighborhood and others in the city of Sandy, we noticed that the dog waste problem is a very serious and very common one in this area. In an effort to illustrate the issue of pet waste pollution to the property management companies and housing development agencies in our neighborhood, we took a walk down Redwood Street, a short street in the Bornstedt Village neighborhood, and took photos of the dog waste left by pet owners. We photographed only the dog waste left on one side of Redwood Street, and after we printed photographs of the piles of dog waste, we counted an amazing 94 piles of dog waste!

Pet waste not disposed of properly isn't just unsightly and inconsiderate; it is illegal and potentially dangerous. Leaving pet waste on the ground, especially in public areas, carries a fine of up to $200 in the city of Sandy. It also poses a risk to children, adults and even pets who can be exposed to diseases. Pet waste carries disease-causing organisms such as E.coli, gardia and salmonella, which can make water unsafe for drinking or swimming. A day's waste from one large dog can contain 7.8 billion fecal coliform bacteria. Rain or snow runoff can carry pet waste directly into waterways or storm drains, which usually empty without any treatment into a stream, river, or estuary.

One of the most effective and least costly methods of encouraging people to pick up after their pets is through public awareness and education. My fiancé and I believe that the Sandy area housing development agencies, property management companies, and the city of Sandy should work together to create a more effective public awareness and outreach program regarding this issue. We feel that educational/ordinance signs installed in areas where pet waste is a major issue would help reduce the occurrence of people leaving their pet waste behind. Installing pet waste bags for neighborhood use would be an especially effective tool in encouraging people to pick up after their pets. Although this option requires management and is a more costly avenue than signs in public areas, it is sure to be an extremely effective incentive in getting people to pick up after their pets and will undoubtedly help to increase the water quality and property values in the city of Sandy.

Managing the pet waste problem in the area of Sandy will certainly require time, energy and money, but we feel as though it would be a practical and beneficial investment in this growing city. Growth without proper management can quickly become a means of wasting vast amounts of any city's resources, especially time and money.

We feel that picking up after our animals is an essential component to responsible pet ownership and would like to see our neighbors who own pets encouraged to behave responsibly as well.

Brooke E. Alley is a resident of Sandy.