My Turn, Your Turn: Pet waste

By Gary McNair - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Recently I had the opportunity to attend an educational session dealing with the Cape Fear River Basin. Doesn't sound interesting - but it was.  And I learned a lot.

Maybe I haven't been paying attention, but I was stunned to learn that pet waste is a huge contributor to water pollution.

Follow the math on this and you'll understand why.  Conservative estimates - there are over 25 thousand dogs in New Hanover County.

On average, each one is responsible for about ¾ of a pound of waste per day.  That's well over half a million pounds of dog doo every month.

And every time it rains all the unwanted bacteria, parasites and viruses run into our creeks and rivers.  And who's to blame?  Pet owners who don't pick up after Fido.

Many area towns have "pooper scooper" laws on the books.  Outside of the parks, Wilmington does not.  Isn't it about time they make a number one priority out of keeping Rover's number two out of our watershed?

That's my turn.  Now it's your turn.  To comment on this segment, or anything else, email me at

To learn more about how to dispose of pet waste, click here.

Viewer's Response:

HERE HERE!!!!  I couldn't agree more that there needs to be a city of Wilmington ordinance concerning dog waste.  My experience is that those of us who walk our dogs usually pick up the waste.  However, most of those who choose to exercise their dogs via riding a bicycle do so without stopping. Not all bicycle riders are guilty, and I literally yelled at one man two different days as his dog's waste was spread along the side of the road on which many people walk, or jog, push strollers, or walk their own dogs. I couldn't believe how inconsiderate he could be, in addition to his seemingly lack of concern about the pollution caused when the waste was washed into the storm drains during rain storms.  Thank goodness, he has started picking up the waste, but there are too many others who do not.  It's really a shame that we citizens don't show we care either about public property or personal property as we trash both without thought.



I am the President of Carleton Place Homeowners Association and out of 242 units we have at least 100 dogs. We installed pet waste stations about 2 1/2 years ago believing that pet owners would pick up after their pets if waste bags were readily available and there was a convenient place to put the waste.  We started with three pet stations and increased the number to seven so that pet owners would have a petstation readily available all around the perimeter of the community.

After many reminders and prodding the vast majority of our pet owners pick up after their pets and use the pet stations to obtain waste bags and to dispose of the waste.  Unfortunately, there is a minority of pet owners that will not pick up after their pet no matter what.  Many times their dogs poop within a few feet of the pet station and they just leave it there.  This behavior frustrates us to no end, but it is too difficult to catch people leaving the waste behind.  We even have one resident who carries a bag when she walks her dog, but she does not pick up the waste.  She carries the bag in case she sees anyone watching her, then she picks up.  In order to keep our community clean of dog poop we have recently hired Sir Scoop A Lot to come twice a week to pick up the pet waste the stubborn minority leaves behind.

The City of Wilmington should have a citywide pet waste ordinance, but the problem is enforcement.  Who will enforce it?  How will the city enforce it?  If people know they are being watched they will pick up the pet waste in that moment, but they will go back to leaving it behind when no one is watching.  Installing pet waste stations would help encourage some to change their ways, but the convenience of pet stations will not change the behavior of the hardcore irresponsible.

Kimberly Day-Lewis


Dog waste, What about cat waste?  There are a lot of responsible dog owners who pick up after their pet.  We don't even have a leash law for cats.  They're allowed to roam free in our neighborhoods and no one picks up after them.

Roger Ford


Thank you for bringing this to your readers attention!!

I did my internship with the City of Wilmington Stormwater Services back in the fall of 2006 and one of my duties was to visit 8th grade science classes in New Hanover County and present "Our Watershed", which was a model of a typical watershed complete with wetlands that the students could actively participate in. The model showed how oil/grease, fertilizer, phosphate based detergents, and animal waste contributed to the degradation of our community waters and enhanced the importance of wetlands in our local communities along the coast. The students were mostly enthralled with the animal waste portion of the presentation because the majority of the kids had domesticated animals in their homes. Some students preached how their parents were very cautious in picking up the doggie poo and then there were others that said they never saw their parents/older siblings/care-takers pick up after the animals and were generally shocked and disgusted with the facts, especially the potential AMOUNT of poop that they could very well be playing in and around.

Fecal coliform is a very potent form of pollution and is one of the easiest to prevent. I am a poop-nazi in my neighborhood and I have given my speech about animal wastes to many of my neighbors who have begun to pick it up instead of hearing me spew....

Adrienne Rogers
Environmental Scientist


So many people are so apt on saving the environment but never realize that it's little things like pet waste that endanger our water and aquatic life. Wilmington and even New Hanover County should have a law about animal waste. There should be a heavy fine for those not picking up pet waste. I have a chocolate lab and you stop dead in your tracks if you step in that doggie land mine. Whether is is a big pet or small pet poo is poo and we don't need that polluting our  FRESH shrimp, oysters beds, fish, etc. If we have a heavy fine, $100 or so, I am sure that people will start picking it up after a few of those tickets and even  though it's embarrassing picking up poo sometimes imaging standing there getting a ticket for not pickin' the poo. If you have a have a pet be responsibe and clean up after them. You have to be responsible drinking, that can hurt people so eventually so can waste in the water system  If you don't like picking up poo litter train them. It can be done.