How we maintain our properties and manage our daily activities can affect the quality of our drinking water and local swimming and fishing areas. Many of our daily activities have the potential to cause stormwater pollution, and small sources of pollution can create large water quality problems. Pet waste is one of those small sources.
The risk of stormwater pollution increases when pet waste that accumulates in animal pen areas or that is left on sidewalks, streets, swales or driveways is transported to water bodies. Rainwater collects and carries pet waste, and other potential pollutants, from every street, parking lot, sidewalk, driveway, yard and garden into a storm drain or catch basin that drains to the nearest body of water.
Droppings from dogs, cats and other commonly kept animals, such as exotic birds, rabbits, goats, and chickens that reach water bodies can impact their natural balance in a variety of ways:
- Pet waste contains nutrients that can promote the growth of algae in streams, lakes, and estuaries. Algae absorb oxygen in the water that fish and other aquatic animals need to live.
- Animal droppings contain intestinal bacteria and disease-causing parasites that can make nearby lakes and bays unsafe for fishing, wading, and swimming after storms.
- In areas with very porous soils or geology, such as South Florida, pollutants such as pet waste can also reach groundwater. As a result, pet waste should not be used as a fertilizer or hosed into the ground.
Pet waste that is not picked up and properly disposed of is more than a nuisance; it pollutes local waterways. Stormwater or any other water runoff carries abandoned pet waste to storm drains that discharge into waterways. This can lead to beach closures, public health and environmental issues. The following information will assist you with preventing stormwater pollution by managing pet waste to keep waterways healthy and neighborhoods inviting.
- Pick up after your pet. It is unlawful to not pick up after your pet. Leaving pet waste behind is a form of littering punishable under the City of Fort Lauderdale’s Code of Ordinances.
- Carry biodegradable plastic bags or a scooper to collect your pet’s waste.
- Encourage other pet owners to clean up after their pet. Offer an extra bag to a pet owner without one.
- Teach your children to properly dispose of pet waste.
- Dispose of pet waste in the trash or a place reserved for pet waste. Never dump it into a storm drain. Never flush pet waste down the toilet. It wastes water.
- Never hose pet waste into the ground or use it as fertilizer. It can find its way into ground water sources.
- Pet waste contains diseases and parasites that can infect other pets or humans who come in contact with it.
- Decomposing pet waste absorbs oxygen from the water, which kills fish and plant life.
- Download Stormy’s Pet Waste Tips Card
Proper disposal of pet waste helps prevent stormwater pollution, keeps our waterways healthy, makes neighborhoods more inviting for those who enjoy outdoor walks and is respectful of other people’s property.
In much the same way that small sources of pollution add up to become a larger problem, small efforts on your part can add up to become a component of the overall solution to improve the quality of our water sources. The problem can only be solved with everyone's help.
The City of Fort Lauderdale Environmental Resources Division encourages you to please pick up after your pets and dispose of pet waste properly.
City of Fort Lauderdale Pet Waste Ordinance
The City of Fort Lauderdale has regulations regarding proper pet waste disposal. Section 6-4(c) of the City’s Code of Ordinances states that, “It shall further be unlawful for a person to allow or permit a dog or other pet or domesticated animal within that person's control to deposit animal waste (except for law enforcement animals while on duty) upon any public or private property and to fail to promptly remove the animal's waste from the property.”
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