Most Earth Day celebrations focus on the dangers of man-made pollutants. The contributions of animals get pushed under the carpet.
Hopefully, that carpet is metaphorical, because American canines pump out 10 million tons of dog poop each year -- enough to fill 3,800 trucks stretching from Seattle to Boston, according to information compiled by DoodyCalls, a company based in Charlottesville, Va., that specializes in picking up dog droppings.
Business is apparently not crappy, because DoodyCalls currently has 55 franchises in 22 states, and made $4.5 million last year doing some very dirty work.
Make no mistake: dog poop in any form isn't exactly fun, but some breeds are more of a challenge than others, according to Marc Samson, DoodyCalls communication director.
"It's the really small dogs and the really large ones that are the hardest to pick up after," Samson told The Huffington Post. "Apparently, chihuahuas are the hardest. The smaller the dog, the smaller the waste, which makes it hard to find -- especially in a large yard.
"Large dogs like mastiffs and great danes are difficult for the obvious reasons," Samson said. "Scooping a large yard full of poop from huge dogs is a serious workout. The weight adds up quickly."
As for the breed with the stinkiest feces, there's no clear winner, Samson said.
"The smell isn't really based on breed, it's the freshness that makes all the difference," Samson said. "As the poop ages and dries out, it doesn't smell quite as much as it does upon initial deposit. The smell of fresh waste from a sick dog takes the cake."
Beyond smell, dog poop can be an environmental problem. Just three days worth of poop from 100 dogs has enough bacteria to temporarily shut down 20 miles of a bay or watershed for swimming and shellfishing.
Companies like DoodyCalls have seen business grow in the last year. Economy be damned -- picking up poop is no fun. In fact, the job is a constant challenge to stout-hearted poop collectors like Doug Barnhardt in Hampton Roads, Va., who takes his share of crap on a daily basis.
"One time, we were doing the mastiffs' backyard and couldn't figure out why were only finding a few turds, when it dawned on us that the whole backyard of this townhouse was a turd -- about one year's worth -- and we'd been walking right on top of this layer of poop the entire time," Barnhardt told The Huffington Post. "No rakes from that point, just a good old-fashioned garden shovel."
Jacob D’Aniello, DoodyCalls co-founder and CEO, said winter is the cruelest month for a dog-poop entrepreneur. Trying to chisel out frozen feces is very difficult -- and it gets worse when the snow thaws and the preserved poop starts to run.
“It wasn’t a big deal this year because we didn’t get a lot of snow, but when it does snow, it’s like putting poop in the freezer,” he told Business Week.
And that's the straight poop.
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