Multifamily’s pet waste management is challenged by unscooped pet waste which increases the health risks that both individuals and pets face, it’s also a potent cause of environmental impact.
By Andrew Ruhland
In order to protect the well-being of residents and onsite associates alike, apartment communities have a myriad of health procedures and best practices in place.
From doing routine smoke alarm testing and changing air filters to cleaning up trash around properties and ensuring well-kept curb appeal, operators aim to protect the health and safety of their residents and onsite team members.
Beyond the obvious issues like excessive trash or insufficient smoke alarms, one of the more sinister health threats at apartment communities is pet waste.
Per internal data from PooPrints, a staggering 40 percent of pet owners fail to pick up after their pet. The unscooped pet waste issue is a serious challenge at millions of communities across the globe and due to the extreme illnesses it can cause – Salmonella, E. Coli, Ringworm and Cat Scratch Disease – it’s time operators revamp the protocols they currently have in place to address it.
Unscooped Pet Waste
Unscooped pet waste not only harms the health of humans and pets, but it wreaks havoc on the environment in a day and age when the entire world is trying to be more eco-conscious and enact greener initiatives. With wellness and sustainability at the forefront of many residents’ minds, it’s worth reexamining some of the best practices being implemented at apartment communities when it comes to keeping residents, associates and pets safe and healthy.
“The fact is, we are responsible for the well-being of our residents and team members and we don’t take that duty lightly,” said Susan Passmore, executive vice president of Blue Ridge Companies. “It’s definitely a nuisance when people don’t pick up after their pets, but it’s also a threat to everybody’s health and the entire environment around us. If residents are not going to pick up after their pets, there are countless reasons we’ve got to establish effective and proactive ways to take care of it.”
While unscooped pet waste significantly increases the health risks that both individuals and pets face, it’s also a potent cause of environmental impact. In fact, pet waste has been classified as a considerable source of nonpoint environmental contamination by The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. After a period of time, unscooped pet waste washes into neighboring bodies of water through storm sewers, and subsequently, it ends up in local lakes, rivers and streams.
“Any health risk to our residents and surrounding community is something we proactively mitigate,” said Jamin Harkness, President of The Life Properties. “We have a responsibility to our residents and the surrounding neighborhoods in which we operate to make a positive impact and contribute to the overall ecosystem – not harm it.”
In the past, pet waste management and mitigation involved supplying bag and disposal stations throughout a community and perhaps having associates keep an eye out for irresponsible pet owners.
If unscooped pet waste was found onsite, then maintenance teams would be tasked with the chore of picking it up. But those practices have proven to be slightly effective at best. In reality, they most likely only encouraged the behavior of a resident not picking up after their pet because they knew that eventually somebody else would do it and there would be no penalty.
To truly have an effect on reducing the amount of pet waste left behind at a property and promote responsible behavior by pet owning residents, operators need to adopt a more sophisticated method of identifying who the culpable party is. In an effort to eliminate unscooped pet waste on a micro level at individual communities and have a positive impact on a macro level for the environment, operators are opting to enlist biotechnology solutions consisting of DNA testing services.
“At Blue Ridge, we utilize biotechnology services to address any pet waste management issues we experience at our communities,” Passmore said. “We incorporate it into the residents’ leases, and per the agreement we collect a DNA sample via a mouth swab of the pet. The service stores the DNA information for us and if pet waste is located onsite and a match comes back, there is no question exactly who it belongs to.”
Biotechnology Solutions For Pet Waste Management
Unlike previous methods of diminishing unscooped pet waste in a community, biotechnology services are not a short-term solution – they offer long-term benefits for people, pets and the environment and pet waste management.
“Residents are far less likely to leave their pet’s waste behind when there is real accountability involved,” Harkness said. “When there is real accountability, it fosters responsible pet ownership, which creates a better overall community culture.”
Operators that use biotech services at their communities have reported an average reduction of 95 percent in the amount of unscooped pet waste being left onsite.
“I know that not every pet owner is leaving their pet’s waste behind out of spite or laziness,” Passmore said. “While some certainly do, the majority of them simply lack the knowledge surrounding the negative impact it can have on residents and other pets’ health, as well as the lasting damage it can do to the environment. Biotechnology solutions provide a layer of protection to the health of those individuals who live in our communities, while keeping residents honest when it comes to picking up after their pet.”
At the end of the day, operators want to have happy residents who want to stay at their communities. And to keep them satisfied, it is in the best interest of everybody to have the most current and effective health protocols available.
“We want to be at the forefront of improving the health and well-being of residents and the environment around us,” Harkness said. “There is a lot at stake and we want to make sure we’re doing our part. Many changes are happening within the industry and we like to stay ahead of the curve and continue making a positive impact on people, neighborhoods and the environment.”
About the author:
Andrew Ruhland is an account executive and content writer for LinnellTaylor Marketing, which focuses exclusively on the rental housing industry, its trends and technology innovations.