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Do your part, please don’t let Fido foul the water

By Lisa Zawaski, Senior Water Quality Engineer, City of Dana Point

Did you know that bacteria from dog doo can cause our beaches to be posted with health warning signs?

Cartoon courtesy of the city of Dana Point
Cartoon courtesy of the city of Dana Point

Yes, there is a connection and some call it “poo-llution.” There are a lot of responsible pet owners out there that always “doo their doody” but surprisingly there are many who do not pick up after their pets. We see dog droppings all over town, and it’s really quite alarming.

Beside being a pet peeve and nuisance to our neighborhoods and beautiful beach community, doo that is not picked up and properly disposed of can result in bacteria loads that will eventually get flushed into our creeks and beaches from rain or sprinkler water, contributing to beach pollution.

So, unless we want to swim, surf or step in dog doo, it is very important for every pet owner and caretaker to pick it up, because “It’s your doody.” Did you know that it is actually against the law to leave dog droppings on public or private property that is not your own?

Below are some pet care tips for the health and safety of your pet and the environment, including beautiful dog-friendly spots to take your dog.

Pet Care Tips to Protect Our Health and Recreational Waters

  • Always carry a few bags to clean up after your dog. It’s the law. Throw the bag in the trash or flush the doo (not the bag) down the toilet.
  • Change your pet’s food and water regularly to avoid pest infestation. Uneaten food should be removed to avoid unwanted critters. Unattended water bowls can facilitate mosquito breeding, so please don’t leave pools of unattended water around, however small.
  • Wash pets indoors or on absorbent ground, such as the lawn, with non-toxic soaps. Dirty wash water is prohibited from entering the streets and storm drains.
  • If using flea control products (yes, these are pesticides), consider non-toxic products, read the instructions and apply carefully. Dispose of unwanted quantities at the Household Hazardous Waste Collection Center. The nearest facility is the Prima Deshecha Landfill at the end of La Pata Road, south of Ortega Highway. Call 714.834.6752 or see for more.

Get a License

Did you know that pet dogs require a license by the time they are four months old? You can license your pet at Dana Point City Hall in the Police Services Department or at the San Clemente-Dana Point Animal Shelter at 221 Avenida Fabricante in San Clemente. Call 949.492.1617 for more information.

Dana Point Dog Fun Zones and City Parks

The city has five Dog Fun Zones, fenced areas where dogs can run free, at Creekside, Crystal Cove, Heritage, Sea Canyon and Sea Terrace parks. Please monitor your pet and read and understand the rules which are posted at these dog-friendly zones. Pets are allowed, on leash only, at city parks, but please never leave any doo. The city provides pet waste bags at many locations, so pet owners are not without a bag to pick it up. Please find a proper receptacle for the doggie bags.

Dog-Friendly Coastal Destinations

Dogs are not allowed on any public beaches in Dana Point. Please be mindful as to where you take your dog. However, there are certain areas where dogs can enjoy our beautiful coastal town. Dogs are welcome at Doheny State Beach in the campground and day use/picnic areas only. All dogs must be leashed and attended to by an adult at all times. When camping, dogs must be contained in a vehicle or tent overnight. Dogs are also welcome at the walkway along Strand Vista Park.

Fido isn’t the Only One that can Foul the Water

Please remember it isn’t only dog doo that can cause water pollution. Our fine feathered friends and felines also do their fair share of “poo-llution” deposits. Although undomesticated animals pose certain challenges to control, we can do our part by not feeding the sea birds at our beaches and picnic areas. It’s not good for them and it’s not good for the water.

This column is a cooperative effort of the city of Dana Point and South Coast Water District to cultivate conscious living to protect and preserve our coastal neighborhoods and resources. If you have any suggestions for topics, please feel free to direct questions to (city of Dana Point) or (South Coast Water District).

In an effort to provide our readers with a wide variety of opinions from our community, the DP Times provides Guest Opinion opportunities in which selected columnists’ opinions are shared. The opinions expressed in these columns are entirely those of the columnist alone and do not reflect those of the DP Times or Picket Fence Media. If you would like to respond to this column, please email us at

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