It's being called the first-ever scientific study on the impact of dog feces on urban fish populations.
The study, completed by Kitchener's Biotactic Fisheries Research and Monitoring, has linked the consequence of dog waste on fish survival, weight, and behaviour.
Creek Chub from the Grand River were used in the study because of the species’ known tolerance to poor water.
The study found reduced foraging efficiency, decreased reproductive development, and increased vulnerability to predators mean surviving populations are experiencing overall diminished health and fitness, adding it could have future repercussions on the future of Canada's wild fish population.
Melloul-Blamey Construction funded the study, which chairman Bernard Melloul calls ground-breaking research.
“It removes any uncertainty about the theoretical link between dog waste and water quality, and the possible harm this has on marine life.” he said.
It's estimated in 2018, Canada's dogs generated over one million tonnes of waste --- 400,000 tonnes became direct land or marine pollution.
The study also points out due to dogs' stomach enzymes and diets, their waste is different from that of wild animals, containing incredibly high concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus, as well as high levels of bacteria including E. coli and parasites.
Waterloo-based SUTERA In-Ground is trying to help municipalities manage the issue by installing its containment, collection and processing system for dog waste.
“Municipalities were already facing increased public pressure regarding this ‘canine conundrum’ and the impact dog waste has on our parks, streets, and other public spaces,” said Steven Cseresnyesi, Vice President of Sutera In-Ground. “The study linking the additional impact dog waste has on urban watersheds will only exacerbate the need to take definitive action so we collectively avoid potentially devastating ecological and economic repercussions.”
The City of Waterloo has been using SUTERA In-Ground containers in some of its parks since 2017.