Why dog business has no business being at the beach?

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Around 1 in 4 households in Ireland own a dog – that’s over half a million of them and given that almost 80% of Ireland’s population lives within 20 miles of a beach there is a fair bet that many of those dogs will enjoy their day at the seaside.

Many local authorities have in place restrictions or bye-laws on allowing dogs to access beaches particularly during the bathing season and at peak times for beach usage. This may seem a little harsh however the purpose is two-fold. In the first instance it is to reduce the nuisance risk caused by dogs being let off the leash and allowed to run free – especially when children are around. The second reason is related to the potential for dog fouling.

Most dog owners are responsible, bagging any dog poo and disposing of it in waste bins or dedicated poop bins which many local authorities have provided. Unfortunately this is not always the case. Despite the prospect of a fine of up to €150 under existing litter legislation, it is not uncommon to see some dog poo simply buried in the sand or hidden under stones with pet owners thinking perhaps, that it “eventually goes away” or is “too much work” to take it home or to the nearest poop bin.

It may not seem like an important environmental concern, but dog poo can create much more damage than a mess on the bottom of your shoe.  There are actually enough E.coli bacteria in one dog poo to contaminate an Olympic size swimming pool (around 3 million litres of water) to a level which would fail to meet the Excellent water quality standard. A single gram of dog poo can contain up to 23 million faecal coliform bacteria! Dog waste can also spread parasites such as hookworms, whipworms, roundworms, ringworms, tapeworms, Parvovirus and Salmonella.

So to all dog owners the message is clear:

Please clean up after your pet for your health and that of other beach users.

EPA Bathing Water Team