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How dog owners are harming the environment

Lydia, Hunter’s Bar Junior School, Sheffield, UK

What is the most surprising thing you have seen in the countryside? For me it’s dog poo bags hanging from trees.

So I met Jane Taylor from Eastern Moors Partnership, a volunteer who looks after Curbar Edge in England’s Peak District. We walked for half a mile around the area and found 39 dog poos: 21 lying on the grass, 14 in bags, hidden, one in the soil and three bags hanging on Birch trees. In total the weight of the dog poo we found was 3kg.

Jane said people don’t understand the damage to nature it causes.

“It poisons the plants and it ruins the eco system. We need to convince people to pick up their dog poo. They need to understand, not just be told,” she told me.

In Sheffield, I interviewed 23 people and most of them had stepped in dog poo. Many people thought that the amount of dog poo being left had increased over the last few years.

“Every day I walk to school I see dog poo on the path and I feel sorry for my shoes when I step in it” Xander, aged 7 told me.

“I would support more signage going up. My daughter got some on her shoes on the way to school. She sat on the floor and it went all over her clothes and she got some on her hands,” said Ruth.

One dog owner admitted she sometimes forgets a poo bag.

“I’ve not picked it up but I have not left it in a public place. I flick it,” Cheryl said.

Across the UK there are 13.5 million pet dogs, according to UK Pet Food. Many people own dogs in and around Sheffield as there are so many parks and the Peak District nearby. Sheffield was titled the UK’s greenest city 2021 by Natwest and the University of Southampton.

Sheffield Council told me there are 13 ‘dual waste’ bins for dog poo in my local park, that they empty every day and that people can get fined if they are caught leaving dog poo because of the Dogs (Fouling of Land) Act 1996.

Jane said when they had a bin at Curbar Edge, it didn’t help the problem.

“We tried that but people still left dog poo and it didn’t make any difference, it just meant we had an extra job, of emptying bins as well as picking up dog poo. We are a charitable organisation so we have to use our time and money wisely,” Jane told me.

“People need to know they are poising the plants and realise they are doing something wrong and stop.

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