Probably the greatest health concern associated with animal wastes is pathogens. Many pathogens found in animal waste can infect humans if ingested. Organisms such as Cryptosporidium, Giardia lamblia, and Salmonella can induce symptoms ranging from skin sores to chest pain. E. coli, which causes diarrhea and abdominal gas, has been the source of disease outbreaks in several States. Particularly virulent strains of E. coli can cause serious illness and fatalities. Cryptosporidium is of particular concern because it is highly resistant to disinfection with chlorine. This protozoan causes gastrointestinal illness lasting two to ten days in healthy individuals but can be fatal in people with weakened immune systems.

Dog and cat droppings often contain roundworms and other parasitic nematodes. A Toxocariasis infection by just a few roundworms usually causes no problems, but more severe infections may cause fevers, bronchitis, asthma, or vision problems. Cat feces may contain Toxoplasmosis, a parasite that infects humans and other animals. Cats are the only animals known to excrete Toxoplasmosis oocysts, which are resistant to most disinfectants. Toxoplasmosis is a serious health concern for pregnant women and immuno-compromised individuals.

Pet waste also contains nutrients that encourage weed and algae growth—making the water unattractive for swimming, boating and fishing. When pet waste is washed into these water bodies, the waste decays using up oxygen and sometimes releasing ammonia. Low oxygen levels and ammonia combined with warm temperatures can kill fish.

  • Always keep areas where children play free of pet wastes.
  • When walking your pet, take a plastic bag and pick up the waste. You can dispose of it in the trash or flush it down the toilet.
  • Pick up pet waste in your yard. Pet wastes are not recommended for back yard compost piles or on landscapes and gardens. While animal manures can make useful fertilizer, parasites carried in dog and cat feces can cause diseases in humans and should not be incorporated into compost piles. Dogs and cats should be kept away from gardens as well.
  • Remember to wash your hands with soap and warm water after playing outside, working in your lawn or garden and after removing pet waste from litter boxes or your yard. 

Why should you pledge?

  • Besides being messy-and super-gross when it ends up on the bottom of your shoe-dog waste is a health risk. Pets, kids playing outside, and adults who garden are most at risk for infection from the bacteria and parasites found in dog waste.
  • Dog waste affects our water quality, harboring bacteria such as salmonella, giardia, and E. coli. One gram of dog waste can contain 23million fecal coliform bacteria. When dog owners don't pick up after their pets, rain or sprinkler runoff can wash the waste into storm drains, where the water runs directly into creeks, streams, rivers, and lakes without being treated or cleaned. (Studies in the Seattle area showed that nearly 20% of bacteria in water samples matched with dogs as the host animals.) And when the waste decays in water, it uses up dissolved oxygen and releases nutrients that causes algae growth, harming fish and other aquatic life.
  • An estimated 1.5 million dogs live in the North Central Texas region, producing more than 500 tons of waste each day. While one pile of dog poop may not seem like a big deal, many piles can add up to a substantial problem. It's up to the entire region to be part of the solution-and your personal commitment makes a huge difference.

So take this opportunity to pledge to Doo the Right Thing and pick up your dog's waste. Properly dispose of the waste by flushing it, burying it (making sure you're not by a water source or vegetable garden), or tossing the bagged waste in a trash can.

Visit to learn more about the impacts of dog waste, take the pledge, and submit your dog's photo. People who have pledged in prior years are welcome to take the pledge again.