The first-ever scientific study on the impact of dog feces on urban fish populations, completed by Kitchener-based Biotactic Fisheries Research and Monitoring, has linked the consequence of dog waste on fish survival, weight, and behaviour.
Creek Chub (Semotilus atromaculatus) from the Grand River watershed were used because of the species’ known tolerance to poor water. The findings are alarming. Reduced foraging efficiency, decreased reproductive development, and increased vulnerability to predators mean surviving populations are experiencing overall diminished health and fitness. This may have repercussions on the future of the country’s wild fish population … and put Canadians in some serious doo-doo.
“This is ground-breaking research,” says Bernard Melloul (photo), Chairman and Founder of Melloul-Blamey Construction, which funded the study. “It removes any uncertainty about the theoretical link between dog waste and water quality, and the possible harm this has on marine life.”
Canada’s poop problem with pooches continues to grow year over year. Dog populations are on an incline, especially in concentrated urban areas. In 2018, Canada’s 8.2 million dogs generated over 1 million tonnes of waste, of which 400,000 tones became direct land or marine pollution. As a result, dog waste has become a huge problem for municipalities, landfills, park users, and water enthusiasts.
Exacerbating the problem is a common misconception that dog waste is “natural” – and therefore not harmful to the environment. However, the composition of dog waste is much different than that of other animals. Due to dogs’ stomach enzymes and diets, their waste is different from that of wild animals, containing incredibly high concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus. This waste is also packed with very high levels of bacteria (such as E. coli, viruses, and parasites). Studies have shown that as much as 30 percent of all bacteria in urban watersheds can be traced back to dog waste.
This puts an increased pressure on municipalities to combat the problem, which can quickly result in overuse of landfills, contamination of recycling bins, and ballooning labour costs in parks and along waterfronts.
SUTERA In-Ground, an Ontario-based company focused on delivering cost-effective and efficient underground waste management solutions, has developed a proven comprehensive containment, collection, and processing system for dog waste.
“Municipalities were already facing increased public pressure regarding this ‘canine conundrum’ and the impact dog waste has on our parks, streets, and other public spaces,” says Steven Cseresnyesi, Vice President of Sutera In-Ground. “The study linking the additional impact dog waste has on urban watersheds will only exacerbate the need to take definitive action so we collectively avoid potentially devastating ecological and economic repercussions.”