In the end, Arya — whose slogan was “a pup has no name” — did not make a claim to this throne either: Philadelphia Water Department spokesdog.
Instead, Dolphina, a recently adopted five-year-old pit-mix, will be the anti-poop pooch for the department’s campaign to spread awareness about the polluting impacts of pet waste that makes its way into local waterways and, ultimately, the city’s source of its drinking water.
The water department, along with the nonprofit Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, opened public voting in May for its spokesdog.
Though all the pups were cute, Dolphina garnered the most votes from social media sites.
Joanne Dahme, head of public affairs for the water department, said city residents love their dogs, but that translates into “tens of millions of pounds” of animal waste generated by animals each year. Waste left on streets, parks or yards washes into waterways during storms. The waste contains pathogens and excess nutrients that pollutes creeks and streams, all of which funnel into the Schuylkill or Delaware rivers. This creates algae blooms in the water, lowering oxygen content for fish and other aquatic life.
Dolphina will be given her own social media account to promote pet hygiene.
Other contestants were: Arya, King, and Willow, all pups now at Morris Animal Refuge in Center City. All were rescues but have since been adopted. Their pictures were posted on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Arya was named after a popular Game of Thrones character.
Dolphina will make her first appearance as spokesdog on Saturday, June 22, as sidekick to the department’s “superhero” Water Woman. The public event will be held 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Cobbs Creek Community Environmental Center. Other events include nature walks, and information on scooping up after our pooch.
According to the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, each gram of dog waste contains 23 million fecal bacteria. The local ecosystem can really handle only two dogs per square mile. In urban areas such as Philadelphia, there can be as many as 125 dogs per square mile.
Nationally, nearly a third of bacteria in urban water samples come from animal waste, the Water Department stated in literature for the campaign. As many as 40 percent of dog owners leave waste behind during walks and runs.
Indeed, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has identified pet waste as a major pollutant of waterways.
So Dolphina has her work cut out for her.