Andrew Mayers (Guardian UK)
Dear Readers, think of the “dog scenarios” on our roads and the elite who walk their pets along the roads. It is nauseating to comment more. – Blogger
I was dismayed to find a beautiful stretch of Essex seaside littered with bags of dog mess. The dog walkers’ disrespect for the environment is shocking
It looked like the aftermath of an extraordinary game. Apparently someone, using a helicopter or perhaps a drone, had been gathering up bags of dog mess and trying to drop them from a great height into the rust-red waste bins that dot the Thames estuary path.
Or maybe, inspired by the famous funfair just a few miles away, the aim was to spear a missile on to the horns of the cattle below, with a cry of “bullseye” greeting a successful shot.
That, at any rate, seemed the only plausible explanation for the dreadful spectacle that confronted me as I walked the usually enchanting stretch of Essex countryside between Southend and Benfleet.
This theme drawing added by TW from internet
Mile after mindless mile it went on. A truly shocking blight on such a rare sweep of wildness
Every 20 or 30 yards, bang in the middle of the trail, there was another disgusting deposit: brightly coloured plastic bags weighed down by something – the nature of which became all too evident when prodded with a boot or stick. Mile after mindless mile it went on. A truly shocking blight on such a rare sweep of wildness. Surely dog owners couldn’t be so myopically moronic? After all, why would anyone in their right minds apply themselves to the distasteful task of scooping up their pet’s faeces in a plastic sack, walk on a couple of yards and then think: “My dog’s done his duty, and so have I: with a clean conscience, I can now drop the whole unsightly package back on the ground?” The helicopter game makes more sense to me.
You see, I don’t blame the dogs. I love dogs. But this is not a dog issue. This is a dog-owner issue. This is about humans fouling the footpath.
And this time they’ve fallen foul of me. I may be a mild-mannered bog trotter, but when I find people defiling what remains of our glorious countryside, I become a snarling wilderness vigilante.
As I strode out of the village of Old Leigh and encountered the first flowerings of this excrement harvest, I greeted them with a stern “tut tut” and a reflection on the laziness and small-mindedness of the culprits.
But I also believe that knowledge is responsibility – to recognise a wrong and do nothing to correct it would make me almost as bad as the wrongdoers. So gingerly, with the very tips of my fingers, I picked up the scabrous scatterings and deposited them in the nearest waste bin. (These bins appear along the shoreline with a frequency that can only be described as regular, something no dog-owner can excuse themselves by denying.)
The whole thing was so bewildering. Sure, no one wants dogs defecating where children, or grown-ups, play. But in the countryside canine excrement can be swatted into the long grass and left to decompose. It’s what bugs and bacteria do so well.
Bag and bin it if you are up to the job. But bag it and drop it, and you have plastic-bag pollution.
The more I saw, the angrier I got. The tipping point, appropriately enough, was a landfill site transformed by the Essex Wildlife Trust into Two Tree Island, a wonderful nature reserve alive with birdsong – and many more than the original two trees. On its eastern tip, an oasis of serenity, I sank down on a bench to contemplate the whistling of waders, the sunlight dappling the marshes, and the giant skies cradling distant Canvey Island.
I don’t know what it was – probably a bird of prey calling – but something made me wheel around. And there they were, snared in the brambles, so near I could touch them: half a dozen turd packets.
It was easy to imagine dog-walkers before me, sitting where I rested now, taking in this sensational vista and then casually tossing Rover’s return over a shoulder. I sat there and fumed, eyeing up the respectable pet-owners who came past. Were they all capable of this sort of insult to nature and our common wealth? And what would they think if one of these offerings came flying over the garden fence to decorate their decking?
This was the outrage that spurred me to action. I had to show people just how bad the problem was. The good folk of Southend and the Thames estuary have a precious resource on their doorstep and they needed to know it was being violated.
Collected bags of dog mess along the Thames estuary
The result is the photo you see here: my dirty dozen – all the parcels of vileness that I steeled myself to collect as I walked back to Southend from Two-Tree Island. This is the evidence of what some dog walkers are doing to our beautiful countryside. And I hope my efforts generate a wave of anger along the Essex seaside, and beyond.
I know some people might think that picking up other people’s mess is a very strange thing to do. But surely the really strange thing is to leave mess like this in the first place.
If only we could train dogs to clean up after their owners.