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It’s the poopiest time of the year: Here’s how to get rid of all that dog poop, and get some money from the city, too

Greater Sudbury offers a rebate if you purchase a ‘dog poop digester’ (which just sounds gross) but here’s how to build one yourself
This is Izzy. He’s super cute, but he poops. Like a lot. Buying or building a simple dog waste digester diverts waste from local landfills, and also helps keep your lawn green. Plus, no smell. (Jenny Lamothe/

Now that spring is finally here, in all its glory, just about everyone is spending every minute they have outside. Patios call to us, decks demand our comfortable chairs, and the fresh spring air greets us with every breath we take.

But let’s be honest with each other. There is a certain smell to spring, and though we try not to name it in certain company, we need to call a spade a spade.

Spring smells like poop.

And that’s just to those who have deigned to go outside for a moment. If you are a dog owner, the minute that snow leaves you are hyper-aware of a yard that is now an endless sea of excrement, a minefield of manure, a yard dedicated to the deuce, sunny acres of stool … well, you get the picture.

But now, to be civilized. There is a way to get rid of it all, in an environmentally safe and convenient way, and even a chance to get a rebate from the City of Greater Sudbury for doing so. 

Dog Waste Digesters – and speaking of civilized, what a terrible word, ‘digester,’ is in this context – are an excellent and often inexpensive way to do away with doo-doo. It acts as a septic system of sorts, allowing the waste to liquefy (again, ick) and drain into the surrounding soil with no harm done. Not only it is a convenient way to get rid of dog waste, but it helps divert garbage from the landfill, something important to the environment, and to those who are already close to their bag limit.

Nataly Wissell, field educator and program co-ordinator for the City of Greater Sudbury, has as part of her mandate the mission to divert as much waste as possible from the city’s landfill by assisting residents with support programs that include diaper waste limit exemptions, tags for medical circumstances, cloth diaper rebates, as well as a rebate if you purchase a dog waste digester.

If you decide to purchase a dog waste digester – something easily done online – you can get $50 back from the city. 

“To apply for the rebate, residents can fill out the application form available on our website or by calling 3-1-1,” says Wissell. “This one-time rebate of up to $50 is available per household. An original receipt for the dog waste digester must be included with the application and residents must participate in the city's curbside collection program in order to be considered for this rebate.” 

Of course, if you are a do-it-yourself-er by nature, you can create a system of your own with a few tools, a garbage can or another style of lidded container, and some septic tank starter.

First, make sure a digester will work in your yard. If you know you have well-draining soil, then no need to worry, but if you often have pools of water after a rain, or clay soil, you might want to test an area (or a few areas) to ensure you have the proper drainage. You can do this by digging a hole, 20 inches by 20 inches, about 14 inches deep. Pour 18 litres (5 gallons) of water into the hole, and wait 48 hours. If the water has drained completely, you can easily put in a digester. If not, you may want to search for another area.

In a plastic garbage pail, or something of similar size, and drill about 12 to 15 holes in the sides of the pail. Then, cut out the bottom completely.

Dig a hole in an out of the way spot, a hole that will cover the entirety of the pail so that the only thing above the ground is the top lip, just enough for the lid to be attached easily. Toss some large rocks, or gravel, into the bottom of the can (while in the hole) to help with drainage and then, start scooping!

Whenever you add to the bin, sprinkle in some septic tank starter — which promotes natural bacteria growth and is available at hardware stores — and add some water.

When you place the lid on top, there should be no smell, and the waste will be happily wasting away, offering nutrients to the soil in the surrounding area.

So if you are facing poop problems this year, take heart. Get a digester, then welcome the smell of fresh grass, newly rising flowers, and all that the sunny season has to offer. 

Jenny Lamothe is a freelance writer, proof-reader and editor in Greater Sudbury. Contact her through her website,