Dog walkers are being advised not to bag up their dog’s poo in the countryside – but to “use a stick and flick” it into the undergrowth instead.

Conservative MP, Anne Main, is expected to make representations during a Westminster debate with the aim of reducing the number of poo bags blighting the English landscape.

Mrs Main believes that signage should be improved at the entrances to parks and open spaces so that dog owners know what is expected of them as she takes the view that dog poo bags, hanging from trees, are a nationwide problem.

Dog Poo Bags Polluting the Environment

BBC research has apparently found that local authorities in England and Wales received 73,824 complaints about dog fouling between 2014-15.

Although there has been a reduction in dog fouling in recent years, a recent survey of more than 10,000 sites found dog mess left in 7% of places.

Mrs Main, MP for St Albans, and dog-owner herself, says the menace of poo-filled bags “is a massive problem” that is polluting the environment.

She has said that “Like many people, I like to walk my dog out in the countryside, parks and in woodland, but over the last few years I’ve noticed an increasing number of dog poo bags hanging off bushes, trees and railings – and it’s disgusting.”

“People think it’s the right thing to do to pick it up, but when they find there aren’t any bins, they jettison the poo-bag into the undergrowth or lob it over a garden fence where animals can eat them, children pick them up or cyclists ride into them.”

Dog Walkers Start Off with Good Intentions

Mrs Main, who is raising the issue during a Westminster Hall debate, says many dog walkers start off with the best intentions, by leaving a bag in a tree on a track to pick up on the way home – but then forget to collect it.

“We have to work with human nature,” she said. “People are not going to carry a dollop of dog poo on a three hour walk – and you are not going to find a bin in Ashdown Forest.

I think we need to have clearer guidelines so dog walkers know what to do.”

Fixed Penalty Notices for Failure to Pick Up

She hopes ministers will press for better signage at the entrance to forest areas and parks and provide advice in respect of dog poo disposal.

She thinks the Forestry Commission-backed campaign for dog walkers to use a “stick and flick” the mess off the pathway and into the undergrowth, or cover it with leaves, is a more effective way of removing the mess than encouraging poo bags that then pollute the countryside.

However, if Westminster takes up the mantle and agrees with Mrs Main’s vision, then steps will, clearly, need to be taken to ensure that dog walkers are clear as to what is, or is not, expected of them. At present, if a dog walker fails to clear up after their dog, they can be issued with a fixed penalty notice, and if the case goes to Court, this could cost the owner or person in charge of the animal up to £1,000. Therefore, there needs to be clear guidance as to the rights and wrongs of using a stick to flick before everyone rushes to dispose of their poo bags for fear of falling foul of the law.

Ringrose Law Canine Law department

For advice on all canine law matters please contact the dog law experts on 01522 561020 or email wecanhelp@ringroselaw.co.uk

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