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Poop Bags

Poop bags serve an important purpose. They keep our streets and parks clean, and prevent dog waste from spreading disease. A single gram of dog feces can contain 23 million fecal coliform bacteria, which can cause diarrhea, vomiting and respiratory infections.

In the 1970s, before poop bags became popular, you would see signs saying “Curb Your Dog,” instructing pet owners to have their dogs poop on the street curbs, where street cleaning would clean up the mess. In New York City, there was a scheme to have the city provide trainers to teach dogs to go only over sewer drains, which the Sanitation Department would flush out twice a day, or provide paper for the owners to use to pick up the poop and deposit into the sewer drains. That was a nutty idea. Then in San Francisco, a device was invented with a bag at the end of a stick, so people wouldn’t have to bend over to scoop the poop. By the mid 1980s, the plastic bag was being used as the most popular way to clean up after your pet. Because plastic bags take so long to break down, biodegradable bags, and even compostable bags became popular. You could toss them into compost bins instead of throwing them away! These days, enforcement of leaving poo has gone high tech, and it’s possible to identify a dog’s droppings through DNA. A company called PooPrints offers services to property management companies so they can determine who is leaving the poo on the property grounds.

There are places using positive reinforcement to get the poo picked up. An internet company in Mexico City offers 5 minutes of free Wi-Fi when poop bags are deposited into a special bin. In Taiwan, you can exchange a filled poop bag for a lottery ticket. My favorite is a company created by graduate students at Arizona State University, called Energy Transformation Using Reactive Digestion (E-Turd), that invented a device that converts dog waste into electricity to power a light! You can buy poop bags now in bulk from any pet supply store on online. Carry them with you - they have many other uses. I was at a client’s house, and his wife had just baked a huge tray of delicious chocolate chip cookies. He asked my if I’d like to take some cookies with me as I left and I said, “Yes please!” As he reached to pick up the cookies his wife sternly said, “Don’t you touch those cookies with your hands - you were just working with the dog.” He looked at me, smiled and said, ”I’ve got this.” He pulled out a bag, turned it inside out and picked up 4 or 5 cookies, turned it back right side out, tied a knot in the top, and handed me a bag full of delicious chocolate chip cookies for my trip home.

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