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Clean up after your companions Special To The Star-news | Sat, Jan 01 2011 12:00 PM

(NAPS)-Pet ownership is at an all-time high, with 75 million dogs in 45 million households, according to the National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association.

Before hitting the trail or sidewalk with your dog, take a few steps to make sure that your best friend is a good neighbor as well.

* Leash training-Most communities have leash laws. Even if your dog is well trained, keeping him or her on a leash is a good idea because dogs can be startled by unfamiliar noises and run away or bolt into traffic.

* Dog parks and dog training-Many communities now have dog parks that provide open areas for your pet to roam, run or romp with other dogs. Make sure your dog has proper obedience training before hitting the park. If your dog knows simple commands, it makes for a more enjoyable experience for everyone.

* The tag's the thing-Many dog parks and recreation areas require that dogs wear ID tags and their current rabies and registration tags. Even if your dog stays in your yard, tags are a good idea, so you may reunite quickly should your dog slip out.

* Cleaning up after your dog-The bacteria found in pet waste poses health risks. Due to the carnivorous feeding habits of domestic animals, their waste contains bacteria, which in turn can cause diseases that are harmful to both humans and pets.

Pet waste has been identified by the EPA as a major cause of nonpoint source pollution caused by rainwater runoff. The EPA and CDC advise that the safest place for pet waste is bagged and placed in a landfill and discourage the composting of pet waste.

* Clean up in style-Since 1995, Bags on Board has encouraged pet owners to pick up after their pets using their stylish dispensers. The compact, refillable dispensers attach to any type of leash and contain a roll of pickup bags. Need a place to stash your keys, cell phone or other items? Adjustable and fashionable Purse Dispensers and Pouch Dispensers can be worn around the waist or across the chest and discreetly dispense pickup bags and provide storage for other items. Other fun dispensers, such as the Ball Dispenser, are also available.

For more information, visit www.bagsonboard.com.

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