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News: Mill Mountain Garden Club Spearheads “Scoop the Poop” Program


May 24, 2018

Mill Mountain Garden Club, Roanoke, Virginia, has led its community in a regional public education campaign focused on proper disposal of pet waste and the environmental hazards it can pose to waterways.  The message is simple: “Scoop the Poop. Grab it. Bag it. Toss it.” Awareness is up, and improper disposal is down.

Collaborating with the Clean Valley Council, the Western Virginia Water Authority, and the City of Roanoke, Mill Mountain Garden Club’s ongoing campaign focuses on the Roanoke Valley region, which has more than 16,000 dogs, each generating about 117 pounds of waste annually.

When precipitation falls on pet waste left on the ground, the stormwater runoff washes the waste into the storm drain system. This polluted runoff then empties untreated into nearby streams, rivers, and lakes, contaminating the water and creating a public health hazard. One gram of dog waste contains an estimated E. coli count of 23 million. The bacteria in dog waste left on the ground can survive for years, even after rains have washed the waste into water systems.

Dogs within the city limits alone produce enough waste each year to fill thirty-four dump trucks. Because there are more dogs in urban versus rural areas, a city’s ecosystem cannot handle the resultant concentration of waste, which leads to higher bacteria counts in local waterways.

The club designed and funded 200 neighborhood signs encouraging proper pet waste disposal, distributed widely throughout the region by the city.  In addition, the club funded interpretive signs about pet waste pollution and stations with pet bag dispensers in dog parks and at Carvins Cove Natural Reserve, the nation’s second-largest municipal park.  Club members make public appearances at community gatherings and schools to educate, most recently participating in an environmental watershed workshop for elementary school teachers. A brochure, promotional video, and radio public service announcements carry the message. The club also supports research on the impact of the campaign.

How can you be part of the solution in your community?


  • Flush pet waste down the toilet, throw it in the trash, or bury it six inches deep in the ground unbagged
  • Use designated pet waste stations where available
  • Carry a small trowel or “pooper-scooper” during walks, and reuse a plastic shopping bag to contain the waste for proper disposal
  • Tie plastic bags to your dog’s leash, and store a few in your car
  • Remember to scoop the waste in your own yard, especially before it rains


  • Don’t let your pet take care of business directly on pavement. Choose a grassy area instead.
  • Don’t place pet waste in a compost pile. Manure for safe use as fertilizer comes only from herbivores such as horses or cows.

To learn more:

Download the brochure, Here’s the Scoop ... Do Your Doody & Clean Up After Your Pet

View the promotional video, Love Where You Live! ... Scoop the Poop.


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