The Philadelphia Water Department is looking for a few good spokesdogs to spread the gospel of poop and scoop.
Juniata and Lower Moyamensing resident dogs have the chance to win celebrity status and their owners $200 in prizes in this year's contest.
The deadline for entries is May 15.
The contest aims to keep waterways clean by encouraging dog walkers to pick up their pets' waste.
Winning spokesdogs will be ambassadors to the city for living the eco-friendly dog life. Winners will be asked to attend two or more neighborhood events, handing out flyers, and giving away free dog-waste bags
"Believe it or not, dog poop can kill because it fuels the growth of fish-killing algae," said Joanne Dahme, the water department's general manager of public affairs. "This happens when rain or snow carries it into sewers, which can overflow into waterways."
Lisa Wool of the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary said, "We love our dogs and enjoy taking them to our favorite neighborhoods, parks and streets, but those that don't pick up ruin it for everyone.
Dog waste has a ton of bacteria that we don't want on the bottom of our shoes or washing off into local waterways or sewers, which empty into nearby streams. Records indicate almost 1,000 registered dogs live in Juniata and Lower Moyamensing.
This means that residents that do pick up the doo remove almost 75 tons of dog waste every year. And this does not include unregistered dogs.
Studies differ on how much dog waste offenders leave behind. However, a conservative estimate puts it at 15 percent or, in this case, over 11 tons a year, leaving behind foul odors and spreading bacteria. Dog waste takes up to a year to degrade
Animal waste acts as a fertilizer in the water, just as it does on land. It can promote excessive aquatic plant growth that can choke waterways, increase algae blooms and rob the water of vital oxygen. It also pollutes the water with disease-causing bacteria.
Voters will select the finalists during an online election on June 1 to July 31. Since 2011, dog lovers have cast more than 30,000 votes for over 150 spokesdog candidates representing six Philadelphia neighborhoods.
Details on how to enter the contest here.
Doggie Waste Fast Facts
In 2000, 68 million Americans owned dogs; that's 40% of all households.
3.6 billion pounds of dog waste a year is produced in the U.S. alone, enough to cover 800 football fields to a depth of one foot.
Nutrients in canine waste can act as a fertilizer in water and may cause algae blooms. These blooms can reduce the amount of oxygen available to other organisms in the waterways.
Poo may take upwards of a year to degrade fully.
Fecal waste contains both bacteria and parasites. The parasites can live in the soil for years before ever hatching.
The average dog goes 23 times a week. Based on a study conducted in Washington DC, this leaves between 100-200 pounds of waste per dog every year.
What can you "doo"?
Pick up after your pet. Flushing pet waste (not the bag) down the toilet is best, because it will be treated at a sewage treatment plant, just like human waste.
If flushing your pet's waste down the toilet is not an option, bag your pet's waste and put it into a trashcan.
Never put pet waste into a storm drain.
Encourage your neighbors to use bags or pet waste stations for the collection and disposal of dog waste.