If the clothing store and bakery that cater exclusively to dogs are any indication, there are some pampered pooches in my neighborhood. What’s next, you might ask yourself, a doggie toilet? Yup. Well, sort of. The company Green Dog has created the Powerloo—it’s essentially a toilet that sits in your yard at ground level. Marketed to dog owners, if the video (above) is any indication, it’s quite easy to use: Pick up the poop, step on the lever to open the toilet lid, plop in the poo, and flush. The devise hooks into existing sewer and water lines.
A dog toilet sounds rather ridiculous, but Green Dog is at least highlighting an important concern—improper disposal of pet waste. The EPA recommends flushing dog waste down the toilet, instead of leaving it in the yard or on the sidewalk because pathogens present in feces can contaminate drinking water sources. And the organisms can be pretty nasty. Cryptosporidium, Giardia lamblia, and Salmonella can induce symptoms ranging from skin sores to chest pain. E. coli, which causes diarrhea and abdominal gas, has caused disease outbreaks in several states, and particularly virulent strains can be deadly. According to the EPA, studies performed on watersheds around Seattle, Washington, found that nearly 20 percent of the bacteria found in water samples were matched with dogs as the host animals.
But the Powerloo's $1,000 price tag seems steep, especially considering that owners still have to pick up the poop. Now if Green Dog could guarantee that Rover would operate the system himself, it might make me reconsider…
In addition to flushing Fido’s feces, the EPA also recommends sealing it in a plastic bag and put into the garbage if local law allows, or burying it. The agency’s instructions for burying excrement, and a few no-no’s:
Dig a hole at least one foot deep, and place three to four inches of pet waste at the bottom. Use a shovel to chop and mix the wastes into the soil at the bottom, then cover the wastes with at least eight inches of soil to keep rodents and pets from digging them up. Pet wastes should only be buried around ornamental plants, and never in vegetable gardens or food-growing locations. Pet wastes are not recommended for back yard compost piles. 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.