SARASOTA - If you don't pick up after your dog when you walk in a public park, it isn't that big of a deal right? Surely, someone else will take care of it. 

"We have about 50,000 licensed dogs in Sarasota County and we estimate that each dog puts about half of a pound of waste on the ground every day. We also estimate that about 40 percent of that waste is never picked up. So, that equates to about 5 tons of dog waste just in Sarasota County every day that can wash out to our bays and beaches," Sarasota Bay Estuary Program's Darcy Young said. 

Surprisingly, dog waste is a large contributor to poor water quality. 

"When it rains, that rain water carries anything that's on the land into the closest water body. So, right here we're sitting in Sarasota Bay watershed. So, if there was a dog that went outside on the ground that waste would get washed into Sarasota Bay if it isn't picked up," Young said. 

The city is offering bio-degradable bags on site at places like Bird Key Park and other popular dog walking locations. 

"It is absolutely critical that people pick up after our pet waste and it's a huge contribution to our environment and people may not realize that pet waste has the same kind of bacteria and parasites and viruses that human waste does but human waste gets treated at our waste water treatment facility and it gets kind of dealt with. Pet waste if often just left on yards and throughout our community and when it rains it washes straight into our waterways," City of Sarasota's Sustainability Manager Stevie Freeman-Montes said. 

The city has placed the bags no only in places like Bird Key Park but land-locked locations as well. 

"You may not realize how connected your yard or a park is to a local water system but everything in our city gets washed into the roads and down storm drains that are connected straight to our water ways, our bay, and our creeks. So, it's important even if you think you're inland to pick up your waste just the same as if you're on the bay front," Freeman-Montes said.