Philadelphia Water Has a Spokesdog. Here’s Why.

Original article can be found on the Green Philly blog

When dog owners ignore their pooch’s poop and leave it on the street, it may not just lead to a fine. It’s actually a larger issue impacting Philly’s waterways and soil.

With roughly one dog for every four people in Philadelphia, dogs generate tens of millions of pounds annually,  according to The Philadelphia Water Department (PWD).

philadelphia water dog waste
Photo: PWD & Delaware Estuary

In addition to harmful germs, dog waste can end up straight into local rivers, posing a risk to waterways and wildlife. Approximately 2-3 days of droppings from 100 dogs can contribute enough bacteria, nitrogen, and phosphorus to temporarily close a bay to swimming and shellfishing, according to an EPA study.

So, the PWD decided to put a furry face to the growing issue of dog waste pollution. The “spokesdog” accompanies the PWD at public events and is featured on their social media platforms, boosting local morale and awareness for a cleaner environment.

Rescue Dog Secured The Crown In 2019

Five-year-old rescue Pitbull Dolphina was crowned as the Official Spokesdog to protect Philly waterways from pet waste in June 2019. Dolphina beat three other shelter dogs for the crown, but they all won a bigger prize- each still walking away with a new family.

“It might seem like a little thing, but our city really loves dogs, and that means tens of millions of pounds of waste generated annually. When that waste is left on streets and in our parks and yards, it can lead to pathogens and excess nutrients washing into our waterways,” said the PWD’s Deputy Commissioner of Public Affairs, Joanne Dahme, in a press release.

PWD, along with Its network of partners through the Philly Water Best Friends Partners Program, spread the word for the Spokesdog Competition.

The PWD’s idea for a Spokesdog competition simply began in 2011 as a less publicized event for city pet owners, the first winner being, “a pup from the Manayunk/Roxborough neighborhood named Cheddar,” stated Laura Copeland, PWD spokeswoman.

From 2011-2015, the Spokesdog fan favorite was decided annually. However, 2015 marked the start of a 4 year-long gap in the competition.

“The time between the 2015 and 2019 competitions allowed us to build new partnerships with animal shelters, veterinarians and pet stores to share information on how to be a responsible pet parent and reach our target audiences. We also updated the competition to aid local shelters and highlight pets looking for a new home,” claimed Copeland.

Fate of Spokesdog For 2020?

Upon the competition’s 2019 comeback it was meant to resume this yearly schedule, but the fate of the 2020 candidate is up in the air.

“We aim to have a new Spokesdog for 2020, but our schedule is to be determined as we continue to observe precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19,” says Copeland.

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