Four in 10 U.S. households include at least one dog, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association.
The association's statistics also show that Americans now own more than 74 million dogs. Of that total, 45 percent were "large" dogs - 40 pounds or more.
Those numbers add up to a lot of poop - which wouldn't matter if all dog owners also regularly picked after their dog, but several studies have found that about 40 percent of American dog owners admit they don't pick up after their dog when it poops away from their own property.
One of the disadvantages of canine companionship is the chore of having to pick up after your pooch.
Animal waste is not only aesthetically unappealing but hazardous to the environment, as well. In recent years, scientists have perfected methods for tracking the origin of nasty bacteria in streams and lakes to owners who don't pick up after their pets.
From mutt to blue-blooded champion, all dogs harbor coliform bacteria, which live in the gut. The group includes E. coli, a bacterium that can cause disease, and fecal coliform bacteria, which spread through feces. Dogs also carry salmonella and giardia.
Moral of the story: If you profess to care about the environment, clean up after your dog.
It has been brought to my attention recently that the amount of dog poop at Loudy-Simpson Park is really bad this year - on the baseball and soccer fields, in the picnic/playground area, on the trails through and around the park and on the disc golf course.
I really don't get it, but for some reason people think that if their dog poops in the snow, it somehow miraculously disappears by spring. Wrong. It's still there in May.
Please get in the habit of cleaning up after your dog every time you take it out - winter, spring, summer and fall - and especially in public areas where children play, picnickers dine and our local athletes practice and compete.
If you know of a group that wants to do a community service activity, it would be much appreciated if they could help get Loudy-Simpson Park (as well as other parks around town) cleaned up for the summer recreation season.
Let's all work together to keep our parks and open spaces safe and clean places to play and enjoy the scenery - without having to watch where we step.
If not, the day may soon come when Fido isn't allowed at the park anymore - state and national parks already have headed in this direction.
For more, contact Elisa at the CSU Moffat County Extension Office, 539 Barclay, 824-9180.