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Cedar Rapids Pet Owners Asked to "Pick Up the Poop" and Avoid Water Contamination

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LINN COUNTY, Iowa - Pet owners in Cedar Rapids are being asked to "pick up the poop."

It may sound funny, but the city says it could be hazardous to your health.

A recent Coe College Water Quality Program study shows higher levels of E-Coli bacteria in some creeks and streams around Linn County. The city says pet owners who do not clean up after their dogs are partially to blame. It claims the doggy "bi-product" can get into area waters and contaminate it.

Craig Hanson with Cedar Rapids Public Works says Cedar Rapids pets city-wide can produce tons of waste, daily.

"That means you potentially have over 2 tons of raw sewage or pet poop out in the public," Hanson said.

Creeks county-wide are running low from the drought. With one heavy rainfall, waste can find its way to the water.

So if your pooch leaves behind more than paw prints at the park, you're creating a health risk.

"It's gross," said Cedar Rapids dog owner, Carrie Fitkin. "Little kids step in it, people step in it, it's leaving your mess for someone else to discover."

Cedar Rapids can fine dog owners $75 dollars for not cleaning up, then $150 for a second offense, and $300 dollars for walking away from the scene of the crime a third time. Fitkin says she thinks that is fitting consequence.

"I think when you have a pet you assume responsibility for it like you would a child...[fines] make the person think twice the next time they didn't bring a bag with them."

Some owners we talked to suggested the city provide more of these doggy bags at parks citywide to encourage the cleanup process.

Others say, picking up is just part of the job, no if's and's or ruff's about it.

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