The scoop on poop

PAUL BILODEAU/Staff photo. A bag of dog poop lays on the ground Thursday at the trailhead to Goose Cove Reservoir in Dogtown area of Gloucester.

A walk in the woods can be the best part of the day … until you step in dog poop. 

That one misstep into the squishy, smelly abyss can lead anyone down a series of unfortunate events including, but not limited, to trying to scrape it off your shoe; smelly footprints in your house; adding an aroma to your carpeted vehicle; and the worst of all — a bad end to a barefoot summer's day.

This shouldn’t happen to anyone. Not even Big Foot.  

After navigating the spider webs, here are a few reasons why you should pick up after your furry friend: 

It is not fertilizer. Unlike cow manure, dog poop cannot be used as fertilizer for your perennials. According to, a dog's waste is highly acidic due to a protein-filled diet.

It can affect water. When fecal matter is washed away by rainstorms, it often ends up in storm drains and rivers. When this happens, according to the University of Rhode Island, "it decomposes and releases nutrients that cause excessive growth of algae and weeds." 

Pet poop also can lead to disease such as whipworms, hookworms, roundworms, Parvo, coronavirus, giardiasis, salmonellosis, cryptosporidiosis, and campylobacteriosis.

It is common sense. Picking up after you dog(s) is a way of showing the community and the forest that you care.

While in some places you may just get angry looks and passive aggressive notes, others have taken poop patrol to a whole other level. 

According to The Washington Post, those caught failing to pick up and pack out in Madrid are forced to either spend a number of days cleaning the streets or pay a $1,700 fine. In Tarragona, Spain, a plan was put into place that uses DNA testing to match scat to dog.

In Brunete, a suburb of Madrid, the Post reported that officials' mitigation plan includes boxing up dog feces and mailing it to the owners.  

Talk about righteous retribution. The full article can be found at

Closer to home, Rockport can fine pet owners $25 to $200 when a dog defecates on any property except the pet owner's and the owner's doesn't pick it up .

"The Town and Animal Control Officer will be checking on improper disposal, keeping an eye on dog walkers, and will be fining al violators," the town website reads.

So let's cut the crap and just pick up the scat.

Want to suggest your favorite trail for review? Let staff writer Taylor Ann Bradford know. While carrier pigeon is her preferred mode of communication, she can be reached at 978-675-2705 or

Trail etiquette for dogs

According to the Essex County Trail Association, dog walkers should follow trail etiquette: 

Pick up after your dog and dispose of your bags appropriately.

Keep dogs leashed on trails that require dogs be leashed. 

Make sure your off-leash dog is under voice control at all times. 

Be respectful of leashed dogs in an off-leash area. The owners may be training the dog and, or the dogs may be fearful of other dogs. Restrain your dog until they’ve gone by.

Call your off-leash dog back to you when a horseback rider or bike rider approaches, restrain them and step aside off the trail until the riders have passed.

Be aware of children or older people walking in an off-leash area. Do not allow your dog to jump on others.

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