You read that correctly, the University of Calgary is urging pet parents to turn in their dog’s poop so it can be studied for gastrointestinal parasites. According to Dr. Alessandro Massolo, who is leading the study- the samples will allow researchers to see if dogs in Calgary are infected with two common gastrointestinal parasites, giardia and cryptosporidium. If they are infected, the team will compare the samples from dogs with samples from coyotes and wild rodents to understand how and where the animals became infected.
According to researcher Anya Smith, the samples will be collected from owners homes who elect to participate in the study. “[Owners] don’t need to be home. We’ll send instructions on leaving it outside.”
As far as the parasites, pet owners and park goers don’t need to be concerned because “They are not a public health risk at all,” said Smith “But in an urban landscape where wildlife, domestic animals and humans overlap, we just want a better understanding of how these parasites are behaving and how potentially they are transmitted.”
Deb Taylor who is a peace officer with animal and bylaw services, said the study could have benefits for human health. “As far as public health consideration, we talk about the need for picking up dog defecation immediately because of the health concern; for instance, roundworm, which can be contained in a dog’s defecation, can be transmitted to humans, so it’s certainly important for dog owners to take responsibility and remove their defecation.”
In exchange for the sample and participation in an online survey, the school will give owners a lab report on their pet’s health which will provide specific information about their dog’s health; the report would normally cost more than $100.
Who are the chosen ones? The City of Calgary mailed out invitations to 6,000 local dog owners in 43 communities who live near popular city parks. Once an owner has agreed to participate, and filled out an online survey – a student will then come and pick up the “package.”