Philly waterways have a new best friend.

Dolphina, a five-year-old pit rescue, will be the face of our efforts to guard local waterways against pet waste pollution and spread the word about easy ways to scoop the poop

Dolphina was selected as 2019's Spokesdog following a spring social media campaign that racked up thousands of likes and shares on @PhillyH2O pages and those of our partners, the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary and the Morris Animal Refuge.

She faced ruff competition from three other dogs at the shelter, and all were winners: each now has a new human family!

"We're very happy to have Dolphina and her new family join us in spreading the word about how picking up pet waste is an easy way for residents to protect our rivers and creeks,” says Joanne Dahme, a dog lover and PWD Deputy Commissioner of Public Affairs. “It might seem like a little thing, but our city really loves dogs, and that means tens of millions of pounds of waste generated annually. When that waste is left on streets and in our parks and yards, it can lead to pathogens and excess nutrients washing into our waterways.”

In addition to containing germs that make people sick, like e. coli and giardia, pet waste has fertilizing nutrients which can fuel algae blooms, sucking up dissolved oxygen fish and other wildlife need to survive. And because many storm drains found on Philly streets lead directly to rivers and creeks, dog poop left on streets or tossed into drains—a major no-no!—can flow straight into waterways without any treatment.

Water Woman, Philly’s resident clean water superhero, will help celebrate her new sidekick during a June 22 celebration that marks the return of Spokesdog after a four-year break. As Dolphina and her family are now busy adjusting to her new home, the staff from Morris will bring one of her best dog-friends to attend on her behalf.

Join Us for a Pet-Friendly Spokesdog Celebration

Local dog owners and residents are invited to the Philly Spokesdog Winner Celebration, which will feature activities, nature walks, and information about how to make scooping the poop easier in our neighborhoods.

Get more event updates: text PWD Events to 468311!

Pet Waste = Pollution

While the Spokesdog competition is a fun way to get the word out, the topic is a serious one and seeks to combat a common mistake: people often think of dog waste as a natural thing that breaks down and helps plant life.

In reality, your dog's waste is a lot like human waste and not something you want lying around in your neighborhood or local park or ending up in rivers and creeks. And, with roughly one dog for every four people in Philadelphia, their waste can pile up quickly and pose a real threat when it washes into waterways, making them less safe for recreation and wildlife.

Pet Waste Dos and Don'ts

  • Pet waste should always be collected and discarded along with household trash.
  • Pet waste should never be left on streets, on the ground, or thrown directly into storm drains.
  • In addition to health and environmental impacts, failing to pick up pet waste can lead to fines in Philadelphia.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that keeping dog waste out of storm drains is an effective way of improving urban runoff water quality. In one commonly cited study, just 2-3 days of droppings from 100 dogs can contribute enough bacteria, nitrogen, and phosphorus to temporarily close a bay to swimming and shellfishing.

While Philly's rivers are off-limits to swimming without special permits for events like triathlons, our rivers are shared resources and what we do impacts downstream neighbors in the Delaware Bay and even the Atlantic Ocean.

See the City's Dog Regulations + Tips from Parks and Rec!
MORE: Check out our poo-llution prevention tips in this slideshow:
2019 Spokesdog Tips From Phila. Water and Delaware Estuary