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AIBU?

To not pick up dog poo...

757 replies

Moonfishstar · 13/02/2024 05:54

... when in a quiet forest, but to flick it with a stick into dense undergrowth instead?

I don't see any issue with this, but I've got a feeling lots will disagree with me, so I wanted to get some other opinions.

OP posts:
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NonPlayerCharacter · 15/02/2024 11:22

brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr · 15/02/2024 08:36

Sure, but it’s made of the surrounding ecosystem. In balance. Not factory processed slop “with chunks and jelly”.

It's also made by animals who form part of the local ecosystem and are therefore involved in its food chain and have a natural, self-regulating balance. A load of dogs coming into it every day to do nothing but shit in it upsets that balance.

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Elber · 15/02/2024 13:38

@MontyDonsBlueScarf

Because you say ‘run free but under control’ - if you aren’t able to pick up its poo, or have an awareness of where it is or what it’s doing - I would say it’s not under control. If you can’t control where it poos, then you can’t control if it’s disturbing other wildlife etc.

The photo you posted is beautiful. If anything, it makes me feel even more strongly that dogs should not be pooing in such a beautiful, natural and delicate ecosystem. I remember in Biology recording the species I found in a metre quadrat. A dog poo in that metre quadrat would undoubtably change the natural nutrient content, add bacteria and pathogens. Then the poo attracts a fox which digests it and spreads it through its own digestive system. More dog poo then attracts more foxes which eat eggs etc of nesting birds. It rains and the bacteria and pathogens from the poo leach into nearby streams and kill fish/invertebrates. Explain to me why that should be overlooked or is not important enough? When it could be avoided by controlling where you dog poos and disposing if it in a better way?

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MontyDonsBlueScarf · 15/02/2024 17:40

@Elber Thank you for this post, it has made me think.

I think we will have to disagree on the meaning of 'under control'. To my mind it means the dog isn't running around causing damage, chasing wildlife or being a nuisance, and it will come back to you immediately if you ask it to. I agree you need an awareness of where it is and what it's doing, but I don't think that that necessarily means you have to have eyes on every single moment - 'he's just gone behind that tree' for example. If you are saying that it means you have to be able to pick up its poo then you might as well say it has to be on lead, surely?

I hear what you say about even one poo changing the local ecosystem and I'm wondering why, if that's the only thing to take into account, Forestry England don't ask everyone to keep their dogs on leads all the time. They do ask you to stay on the paths where possible, so it makes sense to me to think that the damage from searching for and retrieving sparsely spread poo may outweigh the damage done by leaving it where it is. If you can throw any light on this I'd be glad to see it. I hope that answers your question.

More broadly, it has got me thinking about what's 'right' when it comes to conservation, and whether there's any single right answer. Many years ago I was one of the last people to see the Lascaux cave paintings before they were sealed off for their protection. Now no-one can see them. Is that right? If no-one can see them, what's the point of keeping them at all? Nevertheless my gut feeling is that that's probably the right thing to do.

How does that apply to a landscape? It would be possible to seal it off completely to protect it, but somehow that doesn't feel equally right. Partly because it would ignore any rights that people may have to enjoy it, but also because unlike a painting, a forest is in a perpetual state of change in any case. So where do you draw the line between what's best for the landscape and what's best for the people? That's not clear cut. 

As with the vegan/vegetarian/organic/any old thing spectrum, people will have different views and unless these are in some way perverse, they are equally valid. My personal view of the forest is that people and animals should be allowed to enjoy it responsibly. In deciding what that looks like I am guided by the views of Forestry England as I understand them, because I don't have the detailed knowledge necessary to decide entirely for myself. I accept that there will be some people who think that people should be permanently restricted to pathways in the forest or that dogs should only ever be allowed if they're on a lead. That's a valid view, but it's no more right or wrong than mine. I don't hold it because I think that it doesn't give sufficient weight to the rights of people and animals and to the fact that over time, it's in the nature of a forest to change. Equally there are people who think they should be allowed to ride their dirt bikes anywhere. I don't hold that view either but I accept that it's just a different point on the spectrum.

At the end of the day I am open to changing my behaviour, but that would have to be based on new evidence/information, and also be congruent with my position on the preserve it for ever just as it is/let everyone do anything they want spectrum. For the time being I will carry on following Forestry England's advice (which is why I no longer stick and flick). 

Thanks for helping me think more broadly about this.

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Ritasueandbobtoo9 · 15/02/2024 22:03

@MontyDonsBlueScarf will you pick up your dog’s shit then?

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MontyDonsBlueScarf · 15/02/2024 22:40

@Ritasueandbobtoo9 not from inaccessible places because as I've already said many times, Forestry England have told me it's OK not to.

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Ritasueandbobtoo9 · 16/02/2024 05:34

@MontyDonsBlueScarf

Just stop polluting the environment.

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MontyDonsBlueScarf · 16/02/2024 07:59

@Ritasueandbobtoo9 Perhaps I should have said to the Forestry England team, thanks for taking the trouble to come out here and give us 1-1 advice on how to behave in the environment you're responsible for, but actually I'm going to ignore it and be guided by some internet randoms instead. Seriously?!

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Ritasueandbobtoo9 · 16/02/2024 09:17

@MontyDonsBlueScarf

Yes, you’ve been given plenty of evidence.

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Kendodd · 16/02/2024 09:22

With regard dog poo leaching into the environment, if you bag it and bin it, do you know how it's then disposed? In my own garden, I also flick dog poo into the undergrowth and let is dissolve. I've googled, and found articles on the damage dog poo does to the environment but nothing comparing this to the damage bagging does and weighing them against each other.
 
I have actually learnt a lot from this thread. Setting aside the frankly ridiculous claims that a child will wade through nettles and thick brambles to step in it, the environmental damage is a concern and was actually the main reason I DIDN'T bag in such a setting. It's thought provoking to think I may have got this cost/benefit balance wrong. I know the bottom line, having a dog is bad for the environment, full stop. I love my dog though and she adds enormously to my life.

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SabrinaThwaite · 16/02/2024 10:19

MontyDonsBlueScarf · 16/02/2024 07:59

@Ritasueandbobtoo9 Perhaps I should have said to the Forestry England team, thanks for taking the trouble to come out here and give us 1-1 advice on how to behave in the environment you're responsible for, but actually I'm going to ignore it and be guided by some internet randoms instead. Seriously?!

Perhaps you should have asked the Forestry England staff why they are giving advice that contradicts their employer’s publicly available dog code?

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MontyDonsBlueScarf · 16/02/2024 11:02

@SabrinaThwaite maybe I should have done, but as I didn't and you want to know the answer, why don't you find out from Forestry England and post it on here? As @Kendodd says it's not easy to know all the factors we need to take into account and where to draw the cost/benefit balance, and the more information we all have, the better.

That's exactly why I shared my conversation in the first place, so that people could be aware that Forestry England believes that blanket policy statements on the internet don't always cover specific situations, so they find it worthwhile to divert employees from their normal duties to give more nuanced advice. I'm sorry it's upset so many people but I'm pleased that others have found the discussion useful.

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SabrinaThwaite · 16/02/2024 11:37

@MontyDonsBlueScarf

Or, people could just be honest that they disregard specific HSE advice when it suits them?

I don’t actually need to know the answer - I believe in following the published advice. I have also had enough experience over the years to know that employees aren’t always up to date with working practices.

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Theminer · 16/02/2024 13:24

MontyDonsBlueScarf · 16/02/2024 11:02

@SabrinaThwaite maybe I should have done, but as I didn't and you want to know the answer, why don't you find out from Forestry England and post it on here? As @Kendodd says it's not easy to know all the factors we need to take into account and where to draw the cost/benefit balance, and the more information we all have, the better.

That's exactly why I shared my conversation in the first place, so that people could be aware that Forestry England believes that blanket policy statements on the internet don't always cover specific situations, so they find it worthwhile to divert employees from their normal duties to give more nuanced advice. I'm sorry it's upset so many people but I'm pleased that others have found the discussion useful.

They will have realised that there is no chance of people actually putting themselves out to pick up the shit unless it’s in front of their noses, so they hope people might at least be prepared to flick it off the path.

Same principle is used in public information all the time- 5 a day for example- medical professionals know that that isn’t really enough and people should eat more fruit and vegetables, but they also know that if they tell them a lower number they might try and it’s better than nothing.

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MontyDonsBlueScarf · 16/02/2024 13:25

@SabrinaThwaite you seem to have missed the point that I'm not disregarding specific advice, I'm disregarding general advice in favour of specific advice.

I take your point that employees aren't always fully up to date, but surely it's unlikely that a team sent out on a specific, unusual, public information mission wouldn't have been fully briefed on the information they were supposed to be imparting. Or has that also been your experience over the years? If so you've been particularly unlucky.

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mylovelytulips · 16/02/2024 13:33

I wonder how far you can actuall flick it away from the path. what do you do with the shitty stick? leave it by the way for a toddler to pick up or do you throw it into the forest?

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bookfacebaby · 16/02/2024 13:35

The thought of trying to skewer a piece of dog poo like some sort of devils s’more makes me heave!

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Lavender14 · 16/02/2024 13:37

I generally take the rule of thumb that if i can reasonably get to where my dog has gone then I will lift the poo. So if you're walking along a trail etc then yes of course you lift it. My dog loves running through undergrowth etc. I don't need him coming out in your dogs shit.

The only caveat is if he goes somewhere I genuinely can't get to, like he's in behind a hedge or in a thicket then I can't do much about that. But if I have the means to lift it then I lift it.

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SabrinaThwaite · 16/02/2024 13:44

MontyDonsBlueScarf · 16/02/2024 13:25

@SabrinaThwaite you seem to have missed the point that I'm not disregarding specific advice, I'm disregarding general advice in favour of specific advice.

I take your point that employees aren't always fully up to date, but surely it's unlikely that a team sent out on a specific, unusual, public information mission wouldn't have been fully briefed on the information they were supposed to be imparting. Or has that also been your experience over the years? If so you've been particularly unlucky.

It’s less “being unlucky” and more like 30 years experience of working as an HSE professional and ensuring that all staff are up to date with and following current guidance and best practice. Including what the organisation is publishing as its policy.

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Theminer · 16/02/2024 13:48

MontyDonsBlueScarf · 16/02/2024 13:25

@SabrinaThwaite you seem to have missed the point that I'm not disregarding specific advice, I'm disregarding general advice in favour of specific advice.

I take your point that employees aren't always fully up to date, but surely it's unlikely that a team sent out on a specific, unusual, public information mission wouldn't have been fully briefed on the information they were supposed to be imparting. Or has that also been your experience over the years? If so you've been particularly unlucky.

They will have realised that there is no chance of people actually putting themselves out to pick up the shit unless it’s in front of their noses, so they hope people might at least be prepared to flick it off the path. 

Same principle is used in public information all the time- 5 a day for example- medical professionals know that that isn’t really enough and people should eat more fruit and vegetables, but they also know that if they tell them a lower number they might try and it’s better than nothing.

If they went to the trouble of going to that place to give out information then there must have been a dog shit problem- like everything else funding means that you target interventions to where they are most needed. So there must have been shit all over and probably bags of shit left all over too and they were going for the least difficult advice that people might bother to follow, rather than the evidence backed preferred policy.

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SabrinaThwaite · 16/02/2024 14:53

@Theminer Or possibly that they had risk assessed the off path areas and concluded that it was unsafe for the public to access to pick up after their dogs. But then in that scenario then I’d probably be advising that in those areas dogs should be on a lead and not be allowed to stray off the path.

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Theminer · 16/02/2024 15:14

SabrinaThwaite · 16/02/2024 14:53

@Theminer Or possibly that they had risk assessed the off path areas and concluded that it was unsafe for the public to access to pick up after their dogs. But then in that scenario then I’d probably be advising that in those areas dogs should be on a lead and not be allowed to stray off the path.

If that were the case I think they would have put signs up telling people not to leave the path, but the poster hasn’t mentioned that.

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goodkidsmaadhouse · 16/02/2024 17:22

@Kendodd My DC have several times come back from playing in undergrowth with dog poo on them. So I don’t think that’s a ridiculous claim! That said I was still on the side of the leave it simply because of the environmental impact of bagging - I don’t have my own dog, just take care of my friends’ dog when they’re away, and I agree that it is thought provoking to learn about the impact of leaving it (I always bury it when I have their dog and genuinely thought that was better for the environment - now I’ve no idea).

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Ritasueandbobtoo9 · 16/02/2024 18:24

Leaving or burying it still gets washed into the water courses!

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Kendodd · 16/02/2024 18:28

goodkidsmaadhouse · 16/02/2024 17:22

@Kendodd My DC have several times come back from playing in undergrowth with dog poo on them. So I don’t think that’s a ridiculous claim! That said I was still on the side of the leave it simply because of the environmental impact of bagging - I don’t have my own dog, just take care of my friends’ dog when they’re away, and I agree that it is thought provoking to learn about the impact of leaving it (I always bury it when I have their dog and genuinely thought that was better for the environment - now I’ve no idea).

Your children wade through nettles and then five foot high brambles? Even if arms and legs are completely covered with thick safety clothing, their hands and faces must be cut to ribbons.

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goodkidsmaadhouse · 16/02/2024 18:41

Kendodd · 16/02/2024 18:28

Your children wade through nettles and then five foot high brambles? Even if arms and legs are completely covered with thick safety clothing, their hands and faces must be cut to ribbons.

I find it very hard to believe that everyone ‘sticks and flicks’ into nettles and brambles. Those aren’t ubiquitous plants! Indeed one of the photos posted upthread was of the type of Scottish forest we spend our time in and you’d be hard pressed to find either nettles or brambles in great quantities there. I’m talking about general undergrowth, as were PPs.

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