Ok – admittedly talking about poo is something that new parents unexpectedly find themselves able to hold forth on with surprising eloquence and enthusiasm. Some would even excel if selecting it as their specialist subject on Mastermind! Today however I am not talking about baby poo but dog poo – the menace of our footpaths and hazard of walk with children.
As a dog-lover (I am constantly making my case at home for having one of my own) I have nothing against our faithful four legged friends but I find myself perplexed and baffled by the approach of some (and for sure it is only some) irresponsible dog-owners. No longer do we suffer from the plagues of poo on our footpaths I remember when I was growing up. Dog owners are a responsible crowd these days, always leaving the house armed with a poop-a-scoop and disposable bag. Some of these bags are even biodegradable to lessen their final impact on the environment. However what is confusing beyond measure, despite picking up the poo, despite numerous receptacles for dog litter placed at the start and finish of popular footpaths, is why oh why do owners forget to pocket their poo bags and dispose of them in a bin?
I’ve seen poo bags hanging from stiles, nestling at hedgerow bottoms,strung up in groups along fences like some kind mocking selfish tribute to the lost days of respect for our countryside and for others. Do we live in such a nanny state now that some dog walkers think that if they leave their mess behind then someone from a local authority will come and tidy it away for them? Are we really such a selfish lot that we assume others should be doing the jobs we don’t want to do, that somehow because we pay our taxes or are otherwise upstanding members of the community someone else should scoop our dogs’ poop? Or somehow because the dog owner has actually gone to the effort of removing the poo and putting it tidily in a bag (and a biodegradable bag at that)does this constitute tidying up? If this is the case, I would love for someone to provide an insight for me because how can adding a piece of brightly coloured plastic to the original poo pollutant on a walk possibly improve the aesthetic and environmental impact of a messing dog? Why, when we remember to close the gates behind us and take the remains of our picnics home, is it so hard to remember to remove the dog litter too? Sure, we are less likely to tread on a bright coloured plastic bag by mistake, especially if it’s been moved to the side of a path but it looks even worse, is adding an extra pollutant to the environment and those in biodegradable bags will eventually allow seepage and pose the same health and environment risks as leaving the mess lie unwrapped.
This may be a personal peeve of mine but I am not alone. Only last week the Marine Conservation Society released the results of its Beachwatch Big Weekend 2011 survey and one of the headline results was the 11% increase of plastic-wrapped poo polluting our beaches in just one year. 11% more poo in plastic floating around our seas and washing up on the same beaches we take our children to build sand castles on, with the biodegradable bags doing their job and slowly seeping back into the environment in direct proximity to the kids we are teaching to enjoy and care for it…
Enough said. I know that those leaving bags of poo behind are the minority and that the majority of dog owners are responsible and trusted guardians of both our natural environment and the health of wildlife and our children who use the many footpaths in the UK. It is just a shame that some are spoiling it all for others.