It’s a pet peeve for many people, and Eric Schnieder sees it happen all the time.

He has even stepped in it himself—dog feces left on the ground by owners that think their four-legged friend’s waste will dissolve with the snow.

“It’s definitely a problem around here,” said Schnieder, head of Business Communications at the Red Dog Pet Resort & Spa in Boston.

Whether from being lazy, or trying to keep their hands warm during the winter weather, Schnieder said he gets angry about the lack of responsibility.

He said his own dog has even become sick from stepping in waste that wasn’t properly disposed of, after licking her own paws.

When his pet fell ill, veterinarians told Schnieder the dog had contracted parasites from the un-scooped stool.

“The whole point of owning a dog is to take care of them,” he said. “If people don’t want to step in it themselves, then they should also clean it up.”

But doctors and animal experts said Wednesday that not only is ignoring picking up after a pet discourteous to fellow Bostonians—as Schnieder has witnessed outside the Red Dog on many occasions—it can also lead to severe sickness, and even blindness in humans.

As the snow mounds begin to melt away in the Hub, following the weekend blizzard, Dr. Cynthia Cox, head shelter Veterinarian at the MSPCA, said the leftover fecal matter from Fido gets more dangerous the longer it festers.

“It’s not just aesthetically disgusting, but diseases can be passed from pets to people,” she said. “The biggest risk is when dog poop is sitting for a long time.”

Cox said when it sits for too long, the eggs from parasites in the stool can become infected, and they “really have the potential to harm someone.”

“It can be very serious,” said Cox, adding that children are particularly at risk because they play in parks in the dirt, and frequently put their hands in their mouths.

She said specific larvae can hatch, get passed to people, and then travel through organs, leading to asthma and other complications.

She also said if people touch their eyes after inadvertently being exposed to decrepit fecal particles, they could go blind.

Like Schnieder, Cox said laziness could be a common reason for the lack of cleaning up.

“They think it will melt away, or that the snow will turn it to poop soup,” she said.

“But the eggs never really go away. You need to extract them from the environment completely.”

The best way to do that is to pick up the poo.

In Boston, there are strict rules about being responsible for a pet’s waste.

According to the city’s website, “these laws are intended to protect the public from potential hazardous health conditions, and prevent environmental pollution.”

At Boston Animal Hospital, workers also warned dog owners about the health hazards associated with ignored feces.

Trisha Lay, an employee at the hospital, said in most cases people probably don’t clean-up after their pooches because they are either too lazy, or think “the snow will cover it and they won’t get caught.”

“It becomes a concern,” said Lay, adding that parasites spread easily through the infected stool from other pets.

Lay said there are ways to help prevent dogs from getting infected with parasites like tapeworm, however, like taking monthly pills.

But the concern about sickness impacting humans still remains.

And as Schnieder notes, not only is it a health threat to both pets and people, but it’s also a matter of courtesy.

“They can easily just clean it up,” he said.

Follow Steve Annear on Twitter @SteveAnnear

Image courtesy of shutterstock.com

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