Calgary dog owners will get an unusual request in the mail next week from the University of Calgary and the City of Calgary - to donate their dog’s poop in the name of science
July 4, 2012
As part of a program to determine the gastrointestinal health of the registered dog population in Calgary, some dog owners will receive an invitation to fill in an on-line survey in addition to providing a sample of their dogs’ feces for University of Calgary researchers to analyze.
The study is being led by Dr. Alessandro Massolo from the Department of Ecosystem and Public Health of the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, and supported by The City of Calgary, Parks, and Animal & Bylaw Services.
“The results we hope to obtain from this research could prove invaluable from a research perspective,” said Anya Smith, the PhD student who is leading the study in Dr. Massolo’s lab. “This will provide insight into dog gastrointestinal parasites and help identify potential sources of infection, if any.”
Animal & Bylaw Services is mailing the invitation to participate to 6,000 dog owners in 43 communities across the city. In return for handing over a doggy sample and filling out the survey, dog owners will receive the results of the lab analysis of their dog’s feces for free. This analysis, which can cost more than $100, will provide specific information about their dog’s health to share with their veterinarian, if needed.
“We’re happy to support this scientific initiative and we encourage our licensed dog owners to take part in this study,” said Bill Bruce, Director, Animal & Bylaw Services. “Hopefully this will ultimately reinforce the need for all dog owners to clean up after their pets because we already know that dog poop can contain parasites such as roundworm that can be transferred to humans.”
The study will focus on dogs from communities neighbouring six large parks in Calgary: Nose Hill, River Park, Southland, Bowmont, Weaselhead and Fish Creek Provincial Park. This will enable researchers to compare results from this study with samples from coyotes and wild rodents that are being collected in these same parks, and will help shed light on the health of wildlife in urban parks.
The project is part of a larger partnership between the university’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Faculty of Medicine, and the City of Calgary to examine the interactions of domestic animals, wildlife and people in urban environments in partnership with the City of Calgary, the Canadian Institutes of Health research (CIHR), Alberta Innovates Health Solutions (AIHS) and the Institute for Public Health (IPH).