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Three ways to dispose of pet waste


What should environmentally aware pet lovers do after cleaning up the yard or litter box? A recent issue of an environmental publication outlines the options.

According to Garbage magazine, there are three basic ways of handling the stuff: Flush it, use a septic system designed for pet waste, or wrap it up and put it in the garbage can.

The magazine says the first is the most sanitary method of disposal, although arguably a little tough to handle for owners of all but the smallest pets. The editors point out that liquid sewage treatment plants are designed to handle mammal waste, no matter what the species.

The second solution involves putting a special septic system in the back yard. There are a couple of companies making such products; probably the best-known is the Doggie Dooley. The Dooley -- which costs around $50 -- is installed in the ground over a layer of gravel. The waste is put into the unit; water and enzymes are added to break it down. The Doggie Dooley is available at many pet stores and in pet-supply catalogs.

The third and apparently the overwhelmingly popular solution is to wrap pet waste and send it to the landfill with the household trash. The magazine suggests wrapping the stuff in plastic that cannot otherwise be recycled; it notes that in Canada, pet waste is required to be double-bagged before disposal.

Check with your local government for specific regulations and recommendations.

There is definitely one place where pet waste should not be put -- in a compost pile. Pet waste can carry diseases, notes Garbage magazine, and so should never be handled or put near edible plants.

I've always been a member of the "scoop, bag and in the garbage it goes" club. But I've spent some time lately considering the options -- and I've decided to order a Doggie Dooley.

Should long-haired pets be shaved for the summer? The answer is generally no. That's because long hair that's kept clean and brushed insulates pets against heat as well as cold.

Long hair by itself doesn't cause summer problems for pets; in fact, short-haired dogs with black coats, such as Dobermans and Rottweilers, or short muzzles, such as boxers or pugs, are at greater risk in the heat.

Before deciding to trim your pet's coat, look at the amount of grooming you're likely to do. Having a groomer trim the fur to a short -- but not shaved -- length is preferable to mats. Animals that are regulars on trips into tick and burr country are also good candidates for a trim.

Ms. Spadafori is a newspaper reporter and an animal obedience trainer in Sacramento, Calif. Questions about pets may be sent to her c/o Saturday, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.

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