It's common knowledge that on particularly breezy days - especially specific days when certain things are happening at the beef plants in Greeley - there's a distinct odor in the air that might carry across Northern Colorado and can be quite unpleasant. You know the smell. I'm not talking about blooming spring flowers.

But if you catch a whiff of #2 in the air in Fort Collins, it might not be the beef industry in Weld County spritzing the air, it may actually be your lazy neighbors. I'm talking about dog poop. It's everywhere. And for some, it's becoming a problem.

The City of Fort Collins estimates there are more than ten million pounds of dog poop generated in the city each year. Ten million pounds!

Unsplash, Brian Yurasits
Unsplash, Brian Yurasits
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With that much hitting the ground, how much of it gets picked up? People on Reddit think it's at an "epidemic" level, and judging by the comments that have accumulated, it seems to be an issue at the very least. Question is, how long before the, um, "stuff" hits the fan for pet owners who don't do their part?

The City of Fort Collins provides guidance on the issue, and the Larimer Humane Society says that the city requires that “any owner or keeper of any animal shall be responsible for the immediate removal of any feces deposited by such animal on any property, public or private, not owned or exclusively occupied by the owner or keeper. The owner or keeper of any animal shall also be responsible for the periodic removal of feces deposited by such animal on property owned or exclusively occupied by such owner or keeper so as to prevent the creation of a public nuisance.”

The city also estimates that more than 60% of the pet owners here are responsible and clean up after their pet regularly. Let's do the math on that though. If 40% don't clean up after their pet and there's ten million pounds of doggie nuggets left on the ground, that's four million left behind pounds a year. And gross.

Dog waste is the third largest contributor of bacterial pollution in our waterways due to urban watershed. 40% of your neighbors may be contributing to that.

Dog waste has double the bacteria as human waste and yet you don't see people out there squatting in their neighbors' yards. Although it is the 2020s and recent history shows just about anything you don't expect can happen, I suppose, and that would be pretty on par for the last handful of years. Point is, people are civilized enough to know that would be gross and don't do it. So why let your dogs do it and worse, not clean up after them, especially if the impact is actually worse than if humans did it?

Unsplash, Mike Burke
Unsplash, Mike Burke
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On walks through the neighborhood, on trails or wherever you take your dog - but especially even in the privacy of your own backyard if for no other reason than to protect your family from millions of bad bacteria - responsible pet owners should and do clean up after their dogs regularly. As the issues increase, fines and enforcement may follow. And if you don't already clean up after your dog, let this serve as your wake up call, because you never know what you'll eventually step in - figuratively or literally.

For more information on the city's recommendations on how to handle this delicate issue, check out their website.

And for details on how to resolve issues with some problem neighbors or dog walkers out in public spaces, the Larimer Humane Society has some recommendations as well.

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