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Researchers determine how much 'dog doo' is hiding in Calgary parks

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In short - it's a lot.

Just under a kilogram per hectare per week is left behind in Calgary's 8,500 hectares of park lands - that's the find of a recently published study.

"When you translate it into the total mass in kilograms for six months, it can go up to let's say, about 1,400 kilograms in offleash parks," said study author Alessandro Massolo, a professor in the department of biology at the University of Pisa.

The field work was conducted by Massolo about a decade ago when he was teaching at University of Calgary's faculty of veterinary medicine.

He says the concern is for contamination of water and the possible spread of parasites.

"So all these potential pathogens, they can infect wildlife or other dogs or even people in some cases," Massolo said, but admits there haven't been any specific tests on the feces.

However, he praised the City of Calgary's pet ownership bylaws, saying that the solution comes from the city's roughly 130,000 dog owners themselves.

"There is also the social problem," Massolo said. "Think about that beautiful park, and you see a lot of, you know, fecal material on the ground. That is not the feces or kind of the feces of a deer. And this is a huge amount of unpicked dog fecal matter. And this is disturbing, because maybe I want to play with my kids to play football in there, or to do whatever I want to do.

"Well I can't, because it is contaminated."

He says the contamination can spread a common parasite that can, in rare cases, infect people. In 2017, there were just three cases of a condition that causes lesions on the liver.

Since then, there have been nearly two dozen more cases.

In order prevent the spread, dog owners are reminded to practice good hand hygiene, have their pets de-wormed regularly and, most importantly, always pick up after them.

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