Letter: Dog-breeding business poses potential issues

From: Nancy Ray


I would like to address the zoning appeal for the puppy mill business in Bartholomew County.

In 1991, dog waste was labeled a non-point pollutant by the Environmental Protection Agency, placing it in the same category as herbicides, insecticides, oil, grease and toxic chemicals. A single gram of dog waste can contain 23 million fecal coliform bacteria, which are known to cause human illnesses. The EPA estimates that 2 to 3 days’ worth of droppings from 100 dogs would contribute enough bacteria to temporarily close a bay, and all watershed area within 20 miles of it, to swimming and fishing.

The fact that the applicant stated at the zoning appeals meeting that he plans to “use a disc and till” the dog waste into the adjacent farm fields should raise a red flag. Three groups of pathogens in dog feces can harm humans: bacteria, viruses and parasitic protozoans. Pollutants introduced into streams can end up in major waterways downstream. People can become ill by eating contaminated fish or swimming in water with high levels of these microbes.

The 80-plus dogs who will be housed in this facility are not vetted for disease prevention and treatment. Also, most puppies have roundworms. Roundworms are almost impossible to destroy and can survive many winters in the soil. The fact that this much dog waste will be spread into the fields from 80-plus dogs is very concerning. With heavy rains, flooding, and snowmelt, there is a good chance that this contaminated soil will at some point enter the surrounding waterways.

Will dead dogs be buried on the premises? Of the pathways that can expose humans to pathogens, soil has the longest and most persistent potential for harboring a pathogen.

Another source of pollution from large dog-breeding operations is air pollution. Feces and urine from dog waste pollute the air by aerosols. Aerosolization of pathogens, odors and dust particles are an inevitable consequence of animal waste. These microscopic particulates travel afar combining with other pollutants that contribute to smog and human respiratory problems.

The surrounding properties use wells for their water supply. The health department needs to be consulted about possible well water contamination due to the nearby soil contamination.

This dog-breeding business poses legitimate potential environmental and health issues. I have filed a complaint with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM). The Board of Zoning Appeals should continue the appeal process until IDEM’s response is received. Other agencies that should be consulted before a decision is made are the EPA and Centers for Disease Control  and Prevention (CDC).

The decision to let this business operate in Bartholomew County will be injurious to the public health and safety of the community for many years to come and should not be taken lightly. This business brings nothing positive to the community. Say no to this zoning appeal and do not let this type of destructive business come to Bartholomew County.