In the 2010 movie “Envy,” Jack Black’s character invents a spray product that makes dog poo disappear.
It’s no surprise he gets rich off the invention, which, alas, is fictitious. Who wouldn’t welcome a reprieve from doody duty, certainly one of the least-appealing aspects of pet ownership.
“It was just one of those things you never wanted to go do,” said Marva Harper, who has three mid-size, mixed-breed dogs at her home in Briargate. “We would put it off and put it off until it would just become overwhelming.”
The phenomenon to which Harper refers shall henceforth be known as “poo-crastination,” or, the delaying of pet caca cleanup. If you have a dog and you’re lucky enough to have a yard, you’ve probably been guilty of it at some point.
Oh, poo-crastination, architect of year-round family fun and nostalgia! Who can forget the Easter egg-like hunts in autumn, when the poo was cleverly camouflaged by leaves? Or the edge-of-your-seat, “Which one of you forgot to check your shoes before coming in for dinner?”
The downsides to poo-crastination can be seriously unfunny, though, and not just for the health of your lawn. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, pet waste can contain parasites that are harmful to humans and animals, as well as nutrients and toxins that can leach into the soil with rain or snowmelt and end up in groundwater.
The canine virus parvo is transmitted in feces and can survive for years in soil, as viral particles, said Dr. Lisa Bausch, a veterinarian with Bijou Animal Hospital.
“If you’ve had a parvo animal on your premises, it is not a good idea to bring an unvaccinated puppy onto the property,” Bausch said.
While parvo might present the most serious threat to pet health, uncleared feces also can contain roundworms, tapeworms and different parasites that can infect other dogs.
“Some of those parasites have the potential to infect humans, particularly children,” Bausch said.
Nationally, according to the Humane Society of the United States, 39 percent of households own at least one dog, with 40 percent of those at the two-or-more-poochs level. A 60-pound dog relieves itself from one to three times a day, producing approximately 410 pounds of waste each year (crunch the numbers yourself with the “poop calculator” at www .flushdoggy.com.)
What this means for The Poop Happens co-owner Travis Kelley is that business is always in production.
“You have this gorgeous yard and garden and all these beautiful things, it’s really kind of pointless if you don’t take that next step,” said Kelley, who owns and operates the Colorado Springs-based pet waste cleanup service with his brother, Tyler and friend, Nick Roberts.
Business is solid this time of year, with the drop in temperatures and families busy with far more appealing holiday obligations. Plus, in winter, poo can present an especially offensive aesthetic, contrasting starkly on the crest of new fallen snow.
“You don’t want people over eating dinner and seeing that out your window,” Kelley said. Plus, “it’s really important to get the waste removed from your lawn, especially before watering season begins,” he added.
To top off the cleanup, Kelley’s company — one of several that offer such services in the Pikes Peak region — will deodorize hard surfaces and landscaped areas.
Though small-scale composting options exist for homeowners, generally speaking, dog waste doesn’t make for good fertilizer because dogs have a meat-based diet, said Kelley, whose company services several hundred households, including that of Marva Harper, on a weekly basis. Prices start at $10 for a single pooch.
Now, doggy clean-up is “one thing I don’t have to concern myself with,” Harper said. “I have company coming and I have grandchildren playing in my yard, and now I know that it’s not going to be a big mess.”
It’s the closest to disappearing dog poo you’re likely to find outside the magic of Hollywood.
Contact Stephanie Earls: 636-0364