At 30, I became what my 20-year-old self considered a monster: I reported someone to the Homeowner’s Association. (Believe me — I still cringe typing that.) Now before I’m painted as Karen “Let Me Speak To Your Manager” Schultz, let me assure you that I tried everything I knew to avoid that dreaded HOA email and that I have better taste in haircuts than Mrs. Schultz. If you’ve never had to do that, good for you. I, however, got sick of trying to reach the woman whose giant dog took a particular liking to my (expensive-to-me) bahiagrass. If you can imagine the arduous nature of growing and keeping a lawn alongside neighbors who value upkeep, then you’ll know there’s a number of benefits to living where folks watch out for things like incendiary flags and junk cars in the yard. After being ignored by Pink Headphones/Great Dane Woman, I sicced “the law” on her in the form of the HOA. I had to! I wasn’t going to put up with her shit anymore. Here’s why.
Urine For A Surprise
I’ve heard this one posited by a dog walker before, so I had to look it up. Turns out, he was wrong. Though the grass will brighten in spots a dog has tinkled, this is temporary. The nitrogen in the urine acts, for a quick moment, as a fertilizer of sorts before it quickly imparts what’s known as “urine burn.” It’s essentially the same response the grass will have if you over-fertilize. Glorious one moment, brown the next. If the pee isn’t washed away by rain or sprinklers in short order, you’re looking at a dead spot.
Another popular misconception is that all poop is good fertilizer. On the contrary, dog poop is pretty shitty at giving your lawn a boost. That’s because dog waste is highly acidic since their diets revolve around lots of protein. Cow manure, the most commonly recognized form of vegetation feeder, is good at providing nutrients to grass because it once was grass. The more you know.
Have Worms, Will Travel
Parasites are another gnarly side-effect from letting waste sit around. Parvo, trichinosis, whipworms, hookworms, roundworms, giardia, coccidia, and other ickies are transmitted through contact with waste, so unless your dog is thoroughly washing his feet before he comes inside, he and all other pets are at risk of contracting these nasty bugs. In cities, the parasite problem is made worse by rats and other rodents. Dog waste is a huge food source for the critters, and their waste has been linked to a number of diseases that can easily be passed to humans, like leptospirosis, typhus, and salmonellosis.
How You Gonna Runoff Like That?
In other disgusting news, our water supply is affected by fecal matter left to break down in yards and alleys. The thing is, dog poop doesn’t break down nicely; it leaves two types of waste that harm our waterways — nutrients and pathogens. The nutrients in their waste feed algae and weeds, making the water murky, smelly, and unusable for fishing and swimming. Ditto the pathogens that flourish in water and render it a hazard. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that just 2–3 days’ worth of waste from 100 dogs can contribute enough bacteria to temporarily shut down a bay and other watershed areas to swimming or shellfishing within 20 miles.
So apart from washing the grass, there’s not much you can do if you’re dealt the crappy hand of negligent neighbors. Though most folks go the preventative route by doing the right thing, approximately 40 percent of dog-owning Americans polled by PetHealth.com admit they don’t clean up after their pet. We can do better than that! Pick that shit up!