Dog dirt in plastic bags 'threatens beach safety'

Dog on beach The charity hopes the evidence will encourage pet owners to dispose of bagged dog mess responsibly

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A growing trend for pet owners to bag up dog dirt and leave it on beaches threatens bathers' safety and the health of wildlife, a report suggests.

The annual Marine Conservation Society beach litter survey pointed to an 11% increase in such mess on UK beaches, including a 71% rise in Scotland.

It recorded an 11% drop in overall litter during a September weekend.

But the charity warns an 8% increase in balloons found could worsen as a result of Diamond Jubilee and Olympic events.

Conservationists have been pressing the Welsh government to ban balloon and sky lantern release events, saying they pose a choking and entanglement danger to wildlife.

Meanwhile, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) says dog dirt causes high levels of bacteria and leads to both reduced water quality and a human health risk.

Sewage debris

Pet owners have been thinking ahead by carrying plastic bags, said Lauren Davis, who co-ordinates the annual Beachwatch campaign.

But she added: "We hope our findings will now encourage them to take the bag off the beach and bin it in one of the many receptacles provided for the job."

Most common litter

  • Pieces of plastic - 54,043
  • Plastic lids - 15,448
  • Polystyrene pieces - 14,847
  • Crisp/sweet wrappers - 14,407
  • String and cord - 11,409
  • Plastic bottles - 11,223
  • Glass pieces - 11,007
  • Cotton bud sticks - 8,122
  • Fishing net - 7,474
  • Plastic cutlery/trays/cups - 5,989

Source: MCS Beachwatch Big Weekend, 16-19 September 2011

Almost 4,500 volunteers took part in the weekend event, cleaning 335 beaches and collecting 247,914 items of litter - equating to almost 1,741 pieces for every kilometre surveyed.

Despite this, Ms Davis described the results of the survey - between 16 and 19 September last year - as more encouraging than they had been for a while.

"We also saw a substantial dip of 33% in the amount of sewage-related debris on our beaches - that's the stuff people put down their loos but shouldn't, like cotton buds, condoms, sanitary towels and tampon applicators," she said.

The MCS has been conducting its Beachwatch survey since 1994, with litter levels reaching an all-time high in 2008.

Last year, ministers in Northern Ireland were so concerned by the fact only eight of its beaches received a Blue Flag award - the internationally-recognised standard of a clean beach - they convened a summit on the issue.

This was despite the 2010 Beachwatch survey finding it had some of the UK and its dependencies' tidiest beaches, behind only the Channel Islands.

In 2010, British Waterways launched a campaign to stop dog walkers leaving bags of dog dirt hanging from trees and hedgerows near canals.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 380.

    Dogs walked this earth and dropped eggs long before we were around, and yet the human race appears to have got though it comfortably enough to mess up our own enviroments in a thousand more ways that are more unhealthy and dangerous than a dog turd could manage. Should we bag up and deal with our own turds rather than flushing them out to sea along the bleach for the marine life to deal with?

  • rate this

    Comment number 379.

    Once dog owners car drivers smokers drinkers fat people and anyone else the BBC hates, start to refuse to pay the licence fee for this racist organisation they'll soon change their policies

    until that happens, the BBCs racism will continue

  • rate this

    Comment number 378.

    I am a dog lover so being objective is difficult. However as long as we ALL admit the dogs have done no wrong.

    Pet parents need to be responsible as they're the ones who have changed the natural habitat from rural to urban.

    Take traffic wardens and get them put on "poop duty" instead - do everyone a favour that way.

    No offence intended to traffic wardens who I think do a sterling job.

  • rate this

    Comment number 377.


    Agree with your comments. If you follow them through to their logical conclusion then you should ban all people off the beaches as these are some of the biggest polluters. Oh yes and seagulls and ships that drop rubbish that lands on the beaches etc. etc. etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 376.

    how about putting some bins out for dog walkers , come to think of it some for FOXES to in our street.

  • rate this

    Comment number 375.

    343 No.I have children & also had a dog for 14 years.I have no problem with RESPONSIBLE dog owners at all; like my neighbour for example
    The watch words is 'considerate'.I teach my kids to be considerate of others by ensuring they put their rubbish in bins & are courteous & well behaved whilst out
    By the same token I expect dog owners not to let their beloveds ?@&* everywhere & run amok in public

  • rate this

    Comment number 374.

    Dog fouling is a big problem where I am. If criminal dog owners don't clean up after their dogs then they should be banned from keeping dogs. Also dogs should be kept on leashes at all times.

  • rate this

    Comment number 373.

    its all a load of crap really

  • rate this

    Comment number 372.

    Many many people don't think twice about dropping crisp packets, fag cartons, plastic and glass bottles, half eaten kebabs etc etc on the streets and when challenged about it they just dont understand what they have done that is unacceptable. It wouldn't even cross their mind to clean up any doggie turds. The problem in a nushell

  • rate this

    Comment number 371.

    If I did my business on the pavement and then left it there, I'd be lynched!

  • rate this

    Comment number 370.

    Dog owners are a responsible lot - mostly. On my property and my Mum's the problem is neighbourhood cats. Not feral. Just being cats and killing and scaring birds and pooping in the flower beds. Nearly no sparrows since a new Tom added my garden to his patch.

    There are far too many domesticated cats for the urban environment

  • rate this

    Comment number 369.

    @350 whatisgoingon
    "Also time to enforce stricter rulings regarding who should own a dog,ie vetting before owning,prove you are responsible"
    The same could be said of some parents whose offspring are far worse "litterers" than a few dogs and their irresponsible owners could ever be.

  • rate this

    Comment number 368.

    Allowing dogs on a beach used by public for swimming or sun bathing is unsafe and unhygienic. Love your pet as much as you want, but there are certain rules and boundaries that civilised people have to follow, one of which is called respect for public places.

  • rate this

    Comment number 367.

    I think it's a bit extreme to say "ban all dogs" - does that include Guide Dogs?
    I simple way of carrying your dog poo bags is in a Dicky Bag (I don't have any connection to the company but I use one and think they are great) Come on dog owners, don't give the press any more excuses to print negative dog articles.

  • rate this

    Comment number 366.

    Toxocariasis affects only 10 people a year in this country, and blindness is a very unlikely outcome of those infections, according to the NHS website. About as many people as this actually die each year from peanut allergies in the UK. Ban peanuts? Have a licence to own a peanut?

  • rate this

    Comment number 365.

    321.Free Willy
    "Ban cats I say"

    yes you could do that, but the increase in rodent problems would be counter productive.

  • rate this

    Comment number 364.

    Ban dogs! That's a bit too far, but I do agree, that outside, dogs should be on a lead, how if you have two or three dogs off the lead, how are you suposed to keep an eye on all three at all times, so it would be impossible to pick up after them. I see it every day in the park close to my home, and it really annoys me, as both my two big dogs are on the lead in the park etc. Dog owners get a grip.

  • rate this

    Comment number 363.

    As a hopefully "responsible" dog owner, I can honestly say that I have NEVER left bagged dog poo anywhere but in a bin - and I can say that I believe the vast majority of dog owners do the same. I do find that the lack of appropriate bins is frustrating, and yes, I would be happy to pay a "dog owners fee" to assist in the funding of such bins, so that non owners are not paying for my pleasure.

  • rate this

    Comment number 362.

    So this is the new Official BBC Campaign - Ban Dogs. Our local radio station ran a related "get dogs off beaches" story a week ago. A reporter went to a beach and found six people to interview who were against dogs on that beach - but none who thought otherwise!

    I'm not sure that the BBC is allowed to campaign, let alone to campaign clearly based on the personal views of a few managers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 361.

    I often spend time on a bench watching walkers stepping into a pile of dog faeces and then seeing how far it spread over the pavement, amazing to see . Not sure if it would work in sand ? the grains etc, anyway the kill joys on here would stop this sort of fun , bah humbug. The best reactions are from gents in leather soled shoes followed by mums with prams


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