March 4, 2014
When I was a kid walking the family dog, I never once thought about picking up her poop. It wasn’t something people did in the 1960s and ’70s—perhaps because the plastic bags that now overflow our kitchen cabinets had yet to be invented. Today cleaning up after your dog is the urban norm, so much so that as California considers passing the first state ban on plastic bags, one of the loudest concerns comes from pet owners asking: how will we scoop our dogs’ poop?
It’s not an idle question. America’s 83 million pet dogs produce some 10.6 million tons of poop every year. That’s enough to fill a line of tractor-trailers from Seattle to Boston, one waste removal service has calculated. Add in litter from our more than 90 million cats, and you’ve got enough pet waste to fill more than 5,000 football fields ten feet deep, according to another poop-scooping company. Indeed cleaning up after our pets has spawned an entire industry with its own professional organization, the Association of Pet Animal Waste Specialists, complete with pun-filled newsletter (“What we doo”).