Bags of dog faeces left in the countryside across Britain are angering locals and leading to discussions over what can be done to combat irresponsible pet owners.
Recent reports in the Westmoreland Gazette of nearly 50 bags of mess left in White Moss Woods, a small beauty spot in the Lake District, provoked anger from locals and calls for more bins to be installed in areas popular with dog walkers.
Cumbria Tourism said that “more dog waste bins, better information and enforcement,’ were needed in the area, although the Lake District National Park Authority, which owns White Moss Woods, said it had no plans to introduce bins, would spoil the natural environment.
Bags of dog poo left on the ground or hanging in trees has become a blight across Britain. National Trust Dartmoor raised the issue on social media on March and received a flurry of responses. Adrian Colston said: “One of our rangers posted a picture on our National Trust Dartmoor Facebook site of a dog poo bag hung in a hazel tree. It had thousands and thousands of hits and generated many comments.”
Walker John McGowan says these bags are a common sight. “I have two small children and when walking in the hills of Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cumbria we frequently come across bags discarded in trees and bushes, hung on barbed wire fences, left under benches or simply dumped on the path. It often spoils some of the best countryside views and must have a negative effect on tourism in the countryside.”
And dog mess isn’t just a blot on the landscape – it’s also bad for the environment, as Colston explains. “Not only does dog poo spoil the countryside, it also enriches the ground with phosphates and nitrates which is really bad for our wildlife – they like low nutrient soils, not super-enriched ones.”
Canine faeces left on farmland also pose a serious threat to cattle by transmitting diseases such as neosporosis.
Many district councils have fines and penalty notices in place against dog fouling, but these are often not enforced.
So how can dog owners make sure they set a good example?
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “Dog owners should always clean up after their dogs and dispose of the waste appropriately and the vast majority do, however a small minority who do not can give all dog owners a bad name. A lack of bins in an area, particularly public footpaths through the countryside and woodland areas can be frustrating, but is not an excuse to hang dog waste bags in trees or leave them on the ground as some people seem to do. Owners should keep their dog waste bags with them until they can find a dog waste bin or regular litter bin, or should take it home with them to dispose of it properly.”
How to be a responsible dog owner
– Take a supply of dog waste bags out on a walk and dispose of them appropriately. Having too many is better than not having enough.
– Ensure your dog is properly trained and will stay within your sight during a walk, otherwise you could inadvertently be leaving dog waste on the ground. Having a well-trained dog will also ensure your pet comes back when you call.
– Keep your dog under proper control in public. Not everyone feels comfortable around dogs so do consider other land users who may be nearby.
– Take some treats with you to reward good behaviour.
– Take a bottle of water in case your dog gets thirsty during a walk.
– Respect wildlife and do not let your dog disturb wild animals or plants.
– Keep your dog on a lead around livestock.
– Ensure that your dog is microchipped and your details are registered with a database such as Petlog. This will help you to be reunited with your dog should it go missing.
– Have fun! Dog walking is a great way to keep you and your dog fit and healthy, for little or no cost, and is the perfect chance to bond with your dog whilst having fun.