Essential things you need to know about dog poo (and what to do with it!)
⦁ It is a legal requirement to clear up after your dog
Wherever you are in the UK you will face a fine of up to £80 of you fail to clean up your dog’s mess and are caught. That fine can rise to £1000 if you refuse to pay and the case is escalated to the courts. The Dog Fouling Act of 2016 places responsibility on "the person in charge of the dog" . so even if you are walking a friend’s dog you are still liable.
⦁ You should always carry spare poo bags? If you don’t you could be breaking the law.
That’s because, in some parts of the country, you no longer need to be simply spotted failing to pick up the mess, if you are caught out and about without a suitable dog waste bag you may face a fixed penalty notice of up to £100
⦁ Poo is a feature of the countryside but it isn’t something to welcome in the city
The countryside is full of poo. Most of the time we don’t notice it until we walk through a field with cattle or sheep or your dog finds some fox poo to roll in! In the city, on verges or hard surfaces, poo is a serious problem for pedestrians, pushchair and wheelchair users, and children. It harbours disease and needs to be cleared.
⦁ Poo decomposes quicker than a plastic bag
Poo does decompose relatively quickly, especially in bad weather or after rainfall. Unfortunately, a plastic bag takes a long time to decompose, (10 to 100 years). There are alternatives. Biodegradable bags are better, they still take approximately two months to break down and even then there are shreds of plastic still present. Compostable, plant-based bags are a better alternative but they can be costly.
⦁ Poo bins are rare in the countryside
There is good reason for this; just pity the poor poo collection person who would have to trudge miles, to check, empty and clean the bins then cart it all away! If you are walking in an area where there’s no livestock that could be harmed, it might be best to use a stick to flick the stuff into the undergrowth. Alternatively, carry a dog walking bag and take it away with you.
⦁ People will follow our example
Studies have shown that people tend to follow good examples, but also bad ones. Research has been able to demonstrate that once someone fly-tips in a particular place, others follow until it becomes a big dumping ground. Sadly, it is the same with poo bags. One single poo bag left by a bin or a tree will soon find ‘friends’ and before long the problem will have escalated.
⦁ Poo bags left to hang on trees are not cleared by the council
Why is it people think it’s acceptable to chuck a used bag into a tree? The only way these hideous eye-sores are removed is by the wind, other creatures (yuk) or wildlife and countryside volunteers. But why should these people be expected to clear up our dog’s mess?
⦁ Dog poo and poo bags are harmful for wildlife
We all know that dog mess is a nuisance and unpleasant but it can also harbour all manner of diseases, including toxocariasis, campylobacter, tapeworm, hookworm, roundworm, giardia, E. coli, and more rarely salmonella. Unfortunately, plastic poo bags themselves are also a problem if they are not disposed of properly. Poo bags can make their way into the waterways, presenting potentially fatal injuries for birds and other creatures especially if the plastic is ingested.
⦁ There are solutions to dog waste
- Always make sure you leave the house with poo bags (preferably biodegradable or compostable bags)
- Pick up your waste and dispose of it safely in a designated bin or in your own waste bins at home.
- Don’t overfill a bin. Some poor person has to deal with overflowing bins. If the bin is full take it to another one or take it home.
- If you don’t like carrying it in your hand, get a bag designed to take the stuff
- In the countryside, and where there is no livestock it is acceptable to take a stick and flick it out of the way. The Forestry Commission actively promotes the use of the ‘stick and flick’ method.
- If the poo is sloppy (possibly too much information but it has to be said), pick it up and take it away. A sloppy poo might suggest an infection and other dogs and wildlife may catch something.
Dog waste is being taken seriously and it is illegal to not pick up dog poo
Registered blind people are not required to clean up after their guide dogs
Don’t let the mucky stuff put you off walking. Things are getting better and people are genuinely tackling the problem. I’m showing my age but there was a time before it was a ‘thing’ to pick up the waste. Back then it was difficult to walk in a local park or trail without having to clean my shoes when I got home, and as for using the pushchair…don’t ask. I haven’t had to ‘clean’ my shoes once this year and that’s worth celebrating!