If You Go Down In The Woods Today

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I don't like being so negative but I was very angry today and felt compelled to send this letter in an effort to appeal to people's better nature. Perhaps you can find/have a suitable image to accompany it:- Steaming Mad!

There are currently articles in the media informing us of a celebration day marking the linking of the original woodland walk with the new Saxon Heath housing development. Many people, quite rightly so, are singing the praise of Jim Grogan's vision of Tarvin Community Woodland. I walk there frequently and take my Grandchildren there too and they love the freedom of running through paths hidden from Nanny, or spotting Buzzards, butterflies and other wildlife.

Earlier in the year I had thought it would be great to take the boys on a picnic in the woods. However, upon reflection, I wondered about dog faeces as I rarely see anyone that isn't accompanied by a dog -- 99.9% of the time, off their lead. But thought, surely dog owners would be responsible in such a lovely area as bins are provided.

I was very pleased to see that a picnic table had been placed in a large green area and today we all went for a picnic, mum, new baby and grand-dad included. It was a lovely couple of hours until the youngest child sat down on the seat and we noticed 'mud' up his leg and on the bench. Well, you can imagine our horror upon examination to find it was dog faeces! Then it was found on child number 2, and all over the benches and the boy's shoes, arms and hands, really thick. I was fuming. It stank. Even worse, the pile (no exaggeration, there was a large lump, before the boys trod in it) right UP THE LEG OF THE PICNIC TABLE! It was also elsewhere in the grass. Imagine if we had put a baby down on the grass for a crawl. As it was the boys had been kicking a ball round there and one of them laid his face/mouth on the ball.

How can dog owners know where their animal goes to toilet if it is off the lead? I was under the impression it was a community woodland, not a dog toilet! Whilst there we saw 7 dogs with owners pass by. I didn't see one person with a bag or scoop. They may have had a bag in their pocket but it wasn't very evident. I know of responsible dog owners but there are an awful lot who give no consideration for others or children who can pick up diseases from the faeces. It has really tainted my opinion of our woodland walk and dogs in general. It is not really the dogs fault but that of their irresponsible owners. I suspect they have no guilt as they would not have let their dog do this in the first place. It will would be lovely to walk on the grass but I really daren't now. I had been assuring my grandson that it was fine to take shoes off but I doubt he will ever again in a public place. Does the walk need a new notice -- Beware, Canine Toilet? -- I hope not. Maybe, just maybe one or two dog owners will have a pang of conscience and keep their dog on a lead or at least follow them diligently and make sure they know where it defecates and clear it up after them.

Then put the bag in a bin, not fling it over the hedge or hang it in a tree -- but that's another story!

Ed: Photograph was taken from the internet to illustrate the article and is not one taken of this specific incident.

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  • Anne

    I am one of the people who walk their dog on the Woodland Walk, and I am sorry to have to agree with the writer of the article. There are people who allow their dogs to foul and not pick it up, indeed I, and other dog walkers I know, have picked up dog mess which had been left by previous animals from the footpath and grass area. A responsible dog owner will always know where their dogs are, and watch them carefully and pick up the mess. I have picked up dog mess not my own dog's deposit from the area around the picnic table. Unfortunately it is a problem and it reflects on all dog owners. I have seen people whose dogs were on a lead allow their animals of foul and then walk on without picking it up. So keeping a dog on it's lead is not the answer.

  • margaret

    The problem extends to the route to the woodland. I live in Broomheath Lane and regularly remove dog dirt from in front of my house. I have even found it in the garden. I have a dog and may not look as if I carry bags they are always in my pocket.
    The woodland is such a wonderful asset to our village I fail to understand why some treat it so badly.

  • Jane

    I have been walking my dogs daily on the Woodland Walk for 18 years and am vigilant in clearing up after my dogs as necessary, as do all of the regular walkers I know. Recently, along with Anne I have noticed and have removed faeces not from my own dogs. As so often is the case a few irresponsible owners tar the rest. I think we need to continue to remind dog owners and address those we see behaving irresponsibly. There also seems to be more children walking dogs recently who are less inclined to pick up dog mess and and I have approached children on a couple of occasions and given them bags and asked them to remove the dog waste. Perhaps with this encouragement they will continue the good habit.

  • Paul

    I let my dog off the lead in the woodland & other similar locations.You should only let your dog off the lead if it remains under your control.He is always within sight of me. Similarly young children should always be closely supervised in the woodland. I too am vigilant in clearing up after my dog & deposit the bag in the next dog bin so the lack of seeing a no. of dog walkers without a bag is not evidence they didn't pick up!I challenge those who do not clear up & have offered poop bags to others. Wherever it occurs,it is an integral part of being a dog owner to pick up.I wrote to CWAC and asked them why the council do not patrol Tarvin and issue penalty notices in accordance with local legislation — make an example of just a few & word will spread.I never received a response!