TUPPER LAKE - Village Mayor Paul Maroun is taking a stand against irresponsible dog owners.
"I've seen people walking two or three dogs, and they just go to the bathroom on the sidewalk and keep right on walking," Maroun said. "That's not fair to the taxpayers or the business owners in our community."
Starting this week, village police will warn dog walkers that the village is cracking down on people who don't clean up after their pets.
After two weeks of warnings, Maroun said police will begin asking dog walkers for proof that they are equipped to properly dispose of their dog's waste. If proof can't be provided, police will issue an appearance ticket for court.
The move is consistent with a village law that states, "Every person walking a dog (also dogs) on property other than that owned by the dog owner, shall be required to carry a device commonly referred to as a pooper scooper or such other implements or materials capable of being utilized to remove the defecation of the dog or dogs."
The law also states that the waste must be removed immediately, and that it "shall be unlawful for any person to dispose of the dog defecation in any other place other than the owner's home."
To help people clean up, Maroun said the village will soon be installing a plastic bag dispenser outside of the village office building.
"Before I was mayor, they put some of these dispensers up at the park, and kids got into them and pulled all the things out," Maroun said. "This time, people can go down to the village office and grab a couple bags, or they can get enough bags for the week. It's not to be mean; it's a health hazard."
Veterinarian Cecilia Scranton, doctor of veterinary medicine at Lakeside Veterinary Clinic in Tupper Lake, agreed that there are health risks associated with dog waste. Although she hasn't seen any cases locally, Scranton said incidences of round worms and hookworms are well documented in other areas.
Adult roundworms live in their host's intestines, where they lay eggs. The eggs are passed through the host animal - which can be a dog, raccoon, fox or coyote - and lay dormant until they are ingested by another animal.
People can easily pick up the eggs and unintentionally ingest them because they can remain virtually undetectable on the ground long after the feces has been washed away. Humans are an aberrant host to roundworms, meaning the parasite can't complete its life cycle inside them, so the larva becomes lost once it emerges inside a person's body.
"Because people aren't the official host, the larva migrate all around because the chemical and hormonal signals aren't there to lead them into the intestinal tract," Scranton said. "Larval migrans is where the larva migrates all over, and it can eventually end up in the brain or eyes."
Humans are also an aberrant host to hookworms, which take an active role in finding a host.
"Hookworms are weird," Scranton said. "Their little eggs don't necessarily have to be ingested like roundworm eggs. Hookworm eggs can hatch with nice, warm, humid weather, and they hang out in the grass."
All it takes is an unsuspecting, barefoot person to step on a hookworm larva, and the parasite can begin burrowing into its new host's skin, where it will soon become lost.
"It's called visceral larval migrans," Scranton said. "They just scoot around under the skin and cause itchiness, infection, and allergic reactions."
If the new host is a dog, fox or coyote, the larva will head for the animal's intestines, where it can mature and lay more eggs.
Scranton said prevention is the best way to keep these parasites at bay and added that, considering tourism traffic here, they could easily be brought to the region.
Contact Shaun Kittle at 891-2600 ext. 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org.