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Steps being taken to keep animal waste from polluting our waterways

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Most of us know, animal waste is a nuisance on the ground. But what you may not know is that it is one of the main pollutants to our waterways. Municipalities are taking steps to make sure dog walkers clean up.

On a busy day, Jennifer Wilkins walks about 12 to 15 dogs. As a professional pet sitter, she picks up after each pup. “If for whatever reason the customer does not provide me bags, I always bring my own. You have to pick it up because of the environment,” said Wilkins, owner of Best Buddies Pet Sitting.

With 26,000 registered dogs in New Hanover County, 10 tons of animal waste is produced each day. If left on the ground, it runs off in to our waterways. “Our creeks where people fish, people swim, people’s kids wade in the water and it can cause serious health impacts,” Cape Fear coast keeper Mike Giles.

The Town of Wrightsville Beach is not taking this problem sitting down. In mid-April, it imposed a $250 fine for pet owners who do not clean up after their pet. What’s more, walkers can be fined if they don’t carry a bag, even if the dog does not do its business. Since the ordinance was adopted, animal control has written two dozen citations. Wrightsville Beach Town Manager Bob Simpson said, “A message is being sent. The problem lies with some of our residents too who just don’t follow the rules, and know them.”

Nita Neumeister is a dog owner. Nita, Chachi and Chi Chi know the rules. “The bags are right there. They’re supplied and people should carry it, they should pick up after themselves,” said Nueumeister.

Right now, there are not a lot of rules governing pet waste. The City of Wilmington is also considering tightening its rules. Currently, dog owners have to pick up after their pet in public parks. City council is looking to adopt an ordinance that would add any public space. Violators would incur a $250 fine.

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Most of us know, animal waste is a nuisance on the ground. But what you may not know is that it is one of the main pollutants to our waterways. Municipalities are taking steps to make sure dog walkers clean up.

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