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JoAnna Lou
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Consequences of Not Scooping Poop
Maine dogs may lose park privileges due to high E. coli levels.

Picking up after our pups is common courtesy, yet barely a walk goes by that I don't see poop left behind on the side of the road. People may think that leaving a few droppings is not a big deal, but it all adds up and can potentially develop into a health risk. In Rockland, Maine, dog lovers are now facing the loss of a popular park due to unscooped poop.

City officials are considering the shutdown of Snow Marine Park and permanent dog ban because of elevated levels of E. coli bacteria. Recently standing water in the park has tested at a E. coli level of 16,000, nearly seven times the safe level of 400. Terry Pinto, the director of the local wastewater treatment plant, says he has never seen E. coli levels that high before.

Officials believe dog poop is to blame. Snow Marine Park is known locally as a dog park, although it is not officially one.

The city is now fielding recommendations on how to proceed. If E. coli levels don't go down, they will be forced to close the park for disinfection and may reopen no longer allowing dogs. Other options are to put up more signs reminding people to scoop poop and to put better enforcement in place.

Lets hope people get the message about picking up after their pups. We fight so hard for dog friendly places that it's always frustrating to lose privileges because of a few (or in this case, more than a few!) irresponsible people.

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JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

Photo by Lisa Parker/flickr.

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