Sure, it’s gross. And no one can say it’s one of the good things about having a pet. But, in city neighborhoods everywhere, dog poop is not just a disgusting inconvenience-it’s a health hazard. Full of germs and disease, pet waste attracts rats and flies that EAT it. Littering the sidewalks where our kids play and we chat with our neighbors, it inevitably ends up on our shoes in trace amounts and tracked into our homes. And when it rains, all of that poop we walk by, over, around, and (ugh, not AGAIN!!) through, washes down the storm drain. And pollutes our waterways. And by pollute, I mean fills them with bacteria that makes water unfishable and unswimmable and generally unhealthy for the people, animals, and plant life in and around that water.
To picture why the problem is so bad, a brief storm drain tutorial: Storm drains capture all of the rainwater that would otherwise flood our paved streets, sidewalks, and basements. They are the openings you see in curbs, now often painted with fish and reminders to properly dispose of all waste. It is not a sanitary sewer system and does not pass through any kind of filtration process or treatment. The storm water drains right into the Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, its streams, rivers, and other Bay tributaries. Anything in the street gets swept along with it. Including pet waste. And with the number of dogs we see in Charm City these days, it’s no wonder that bacteria from pet waste account for a very significant portion of the total bacteria levels in water like the Inner Harbor. (For more information on both the problem and the solution, please visit Healthy Harbor’s website and Two Girls and A Shovel.)
So the solution is simple. PICK UP YOUR PET’S WASTE. It’s not pleasant but the result is so much better than more summers of stinky, polluted water. Wouldn’t it be great if we had a dog beach one day? Or even a place where we humans could cool off in the hot, hazy humidity?! Right here in Charm City! Just imagine it while you are picking up after your pet. And if common courtesy and a love of your hometown isn’t enough incentive for you, it’s the law.
§ 10-313. Animal waste.
(a) In general.
Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, the owner or custodian of an animal
(1) have in his or her possession a means for the removal and sanitary disposal of the
animal’s feces; and
(2) immediately remove all feces left by the animal:
(i) on that person’s or any other person’s private property; or
(ii) on any public property, including any street, sidewalk, foot path, median,
gutter, alley, park, or recreation area.
(b) Deposit in storm drain, etc., prohibited.
The owner or custodian of an animal may not dispose of the animal’s feces by placing
them in a storm drain or watershed area.
Subsection (a) of this section does not apply to:
(1) an animal owned by and while working for a law enforcement or other
governmental agency; or
(2) an animal professionally trained to aid the visually, hearing, or mobility disabled,
while actually being used for that purpose.
(Baltimore City Code, 1976/83, art. 11, §36.) (Ord. 99-548; Ord. 05-121; Ord. 11-573.)