Miami Beach launches campaign aimed at educating about dog poop damaging Biscayne Bay

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – With Biscayne Bay still recovering from the October fish kill, it’s another reminder that our bay is at a dangerous tipping point.

Something that has been discussed on Don’t Trash Our Treasure before is dog owners not picking up their pet waste and how it is fueling the problem.

The City of Miami Beach knows just how critical this pet poop predicament has become, and has launched a public education campaign to address it.

“Frankly, there’s a little bit too much dog poop in the bay, and we’re trying to do everything we can to let people know that they got to really clean up afterwards,” said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber.

The problem is many residents aren’t making the connection that un-picked up pet waste is one of the reasons Biscayne Bay is dying.

“When it rains, it picks up all of the waste and debris that’s on the sidewalks and streets, they go into inlets, they go into drains, and they go right into the bay,” said Miami Beach Chief Resilience Officer Amy Knowles.

Those “lawn Snickers” dog owners ignore can become deadly little nitrogen bombs adding to the excess nutrient load from sewage breaks, septic leaks, fertilizer and storm water runoff degrading the watershed, killing what little seagrass we have left.

“And so by you properly picking up after your dog, you could be saving seagrass you could be saving manatees really starts with you and that collective activity is what generates large change here,” said Maddie Kaufman, Program and Outreach Director for Debris Free Oceans.

And so Miami Beach launched a campaign: Don’t Be Ruff on the Bay.

“Spread the message and tell the world and tell our community the importance of cleaning up after ourselves, cleaning up after our puppies, and keeping our environment free from waste that goes into our beautiful bay,” said Miami Beach City Manager Alina Hudak.

Posters and signage are going up all over the island to remind residents this small act of kindness can make a big difference.

Pet waste is another major pollution source,” said Rachel Silverstein, Executive Director for Miami Waterkeeper.

Pup parents Local 10 News spoke with at a recent kick-off event at Maurice Gibb Park on Purdey Avenue said they got the message loud and clear, with some even signing a pledge to doo doo better.

“I think you know, we all been there, right? We want to walk away by and we have to remind ourselves that it’s saving the environment and you know, we have to pick it up,” said dog owner Stacy Fistel.

City officials say education is the key to saving Biscany Bay, which is why campaigns like this are so important.

“This is our bay, it’s everybody’s bay, and whether you’re out there on a kayak, whether you’re swimming or whether you’re just looking how beautiful it is, it’s ours,” said Gelber. “And we can we can clean it, we can keep it clean.”

And remember, it doesn’t matter how far you think you are from the bay or any body of water, in South Florida we are connected and surrounded by canals, lakes and intracoastals.

What you do on the land ends up in the water, so even if you don’t live on Miami Beach, pick up the poop.

It matters. Really.


About the Author:

Louis Aguirre is an Emmy-award winning journalist who anchors weekday newscasts and serves as WPLG Local 10’s Environmental Advocate.