Pet owners urged to protect pooches


22 June 2015



DOG owners are being warned to be vigilant when walking their pets in parks and on beaches as wildlife were not the only animals falling prey to the dangerous effects of litter.

Thousands of pets suffered serious injuries each year from plastic, glass, metal and other litter left in common dog walking areas such as beaches, parks and residential streets.

New research from Keep Australia Beautiful (KAB) has prompted the national litter-busting organisation to join forces with Queensland Veterinary Specialists (QVS) to issue a warning about the serious danger to pets.

“Everyone knows litter affects the environment and hurts wildlife but many people don’t realise the impact it can have on their pets,’’ said KAB Chief Executive Officer Peter McLean.

“Everyday items like plastic bags, broken glass, cans, elastic bands and balloons seem harmless but they can be life-threatening for an animal.”

QVS internal medicine specialist Dr Inar Swift said dogs frequently needed emergency surgery or intensive treatment because they had eaten litter or walked over glass or metal left lying around.

“We see it all,’’ said Dr Swift. “Deep cuts from broken glass, rusty fishing hooks and line caught in the back of the throat and severe damage caused by things like the skewer from a chicken satay stick,” she said.

More than 80 dogs were treated per year at QVS for illness and injuries sustained from litter.

“If you factored in all of the other veterinary clinics and surgeries across the country, the number of pets injured from litter would easily number in the thousands,” she said.

“The sad thing is that it’s completely avoidable.’’

Mr McLean said the latest KAB National Litter Index interim report[i] revealed that in Queensland 1,429 pieces of metal, glass and plastic were found per 1000m2 of common dog walking areas.

The figure was significantly higher than the national average of 688/1000m2, according to the November 2014 litter survey.

“This is a reminder to the entire community to do the right thing with litter – leaving a plastic bag behind at a picnic site is not just an environmental issue, it’s about looking out for our best friends too,’’ Mr McLean said.

Mr McLean said the top five ways to keep your pooch safe were to:

  1. Pick up broken glass in parks and other public areas.
  2. Keep waste and recycling bin lids secure.
  3. Tidy up after picnics and barbecues, leaving no plastic bags or litter behind.
  4. Don’t leave fishing hooks behind at waterways or beaches.
  5. Take part in community clean up days at local dog parks or beaches.


Media contact: Asaesja Young, Sequel PR – (07) 3251 8133 or 0439 483 858

For state and territory specific releases contact

About Keep Australia Beautiful: Keep Australia Beautiful is the national peak body on litter prevention. With more than four decades of experience in engaging Australians to care for their local environments, (not to be confused with Clean Up Australia Day) KAB Programs include Sustainable Cities, Tidy Towns, Clean Beaches, National Litter Index, Eco-Schools, Adopt a Patch, and Keep Australia Beautiful Week in August.

The KAB National website is where all information on the organisation can be accessed including the National Litter Index, which is Australia’s only independent nation-wide litter research.

[i] MacGregor Tan Research (Feb 2015). National Litter Index – Annual Results November 2014 Tabulations. Keep Australia Beautiful.


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