Health: Pick up after your pet...it’s a law

By Debbie Howes Fleming Published:

It is official. In addition to being co-director of Frankfort Parks and Recreation Department, Jim Parrish is the CEO of the Mitts for Mutts program. His co-director, Jim McCarty has not confirmed that he accepts the title of co-CEO of the program.

The program itself has been in existence for around ten years. The purpose is to supply animal owners’ plastic bags to pick up and discard animal waste while walking their pets. The bags are located in strategic walking areas all around town including the parks.

According to Fred Goins, City Manager, the number of complaints concerning pet owners not cleaning up after their animals is increasing. This is occurring in spite of a city ordinance. The ordinance reads:

“The owner/harborer of every animal shall remove any dung deposited by his or her animal(s) on any property not belonging to him or her within the corporate limits of the city. (>70 Code, ‘8.4.110) (Ord. 0-92, 1992, passed 10-12-92).

The increase in complaints could be the result of pet owners increasingly including their pets in family activities and outings. In fact, many pet owners consider and treat their pets as family members. As members of the family, pets often share living and eating spaces, both indoors and outside with other family members.

Besides being unsightly and odorous, pet wastes can carry harmful bacteria and parasites. It is possible for some of these to be transmitted to humans and other pets causing illness and disease. Children and pets that play together in backyards and in parks where pets defecate are at the greatest risk for becoming infected.

The most common bacterial infection transmitted to humans is Salmonellosis. According to the Mayo Clinic, Salmonella infection affects the intestinal tract. It lives in animal and human intestines and is passed through feces. Usually humans are infected through contaminated water and food sources such as raw or undercooked meat, poultry, seafood and raw eggs. Vegetables and fruits washed in contaminated water are also sources of the infection.

Salmonella may also be found on reptiles and on the fur of infected animals. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that children under the age of five and people with a compromised immune system should avoid contact with all reptiles. Petting zoos may be an additional source of contamination.

Campylobacter infection is another bacterial infection carried by dogs and cats that can infect humans. Generally, it causes diarrhea. Cats can carry toxoplasmosis, a parasite that may cause birth defects if a woman becomes infected during pregnancy. Toxocariasis are roundworms transmitted from dogs to humans usually without notable symptoms. Fleas and ticks also spread disease and illness. These are a few of the most common problems.

The benefits of pet ownership are well documented. Keep the relationship healthy by having a veterinarian examine your pet. A vet is your best source for information on parasites and diseases in animals. Having your pet examined and treated should ensure that he or she is healthy. Remember to clean up your pet’s waste whether you are in public places or in your own yard.

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