I’ve been thinking about what I could write about for Rumpy’s Animal Welfare Challenge. It’s quite difficult for a dog to do anything that makes a difference for other animals. I want to talk to you about litter and rubbish and lanterns, but before I begin I’d like to remind you that Rumpy needs your vote in the World Spay Day Pet Pageant.
I like to go out hiking with my bipeds. We carry food and water and have a picnic while we’re out. I always make sure that they pack all the wrappings into one of the rucksacks and that we leave no litter behind us. If we see any dangerous litter that someone else has left, I make sure that my bipeds pick it up and dispose of it safely later. It only takes a moment, but could save an animal’s life. Every year the RSPCA gets 7,000 calls about litter-related incidents – and that is just in Britain!
I try to inspect every item that goes into the rubbish bin at home. I don’t enjoy checking the rubbish, contrary to what many bipeds think about a dog’s motivations for looking in the bin! But I think it’s a small thing to do if it could save some lives. I make sure that my bipeds recycle as much of the rubbish as possible.
We have recycling for glass locally, so it’s easy to put the glass in the correct container. There isn’t any recycling for cans near us. We don’t use many, but when we do I make sure the bipeds rinse them and flatten them with the lid inside – we’ve all heard stories of animals getting stuck in them. Lots of waste ends up in landfill sites and animals go and rake over the rubbish for an easy meal.
Batteries contain a poisonous fluid, so my bipeds save them until they go to a larger town where there is recycling for batteries. Medicines, animal or human, are taken to the pharmacy for safe disposal.
What goes up must come down!
I’m told this is not true if something goes up high enough to get out of the earth’s atmosphere, it will then go out into space. But balloons and Chinese sky lanterns will come down, and no one knows where. I know many people find the sight of them beautiful and they’re often used as a message of hope, but I’m a dog with four paws planted firmly on the ground and I see them as tomorrow’s litter.
I find balloons in some really remote places, when I go out hiking with my bipeds. I get my bipeds to pick them up because animals can die from eating them. They are also a problem if they land in the sea and are eaten by marine life.
It made me really sad when I discovered that owls can get confused by Chinese lanterns and have died after colliding with one. I think owls are beautiful, so that is quite enough to convince me not to release a Chinese lantern into the sky. But I asked my bipeds to help me find more information because I don’t think many people would release lanterns if they knew the damage they can cause.
My bipeds found that some countries, and some states in America, have banned the release of Chinese lanterns because of the fire risk. There has been publicity about the wire frame of the lantern causing problems for animals, but many people think that lanterns called biodegradable that do not have the wire in them are safe. However, there is no agreed standard for them and some have sharp pieces of bamboo which can take decades to decay and are dangerous to animals.
The Marine Conservation Society wants Chinese lanterns banned, they say they harm wildlife. They also quote the Coastguard and Royal National Lifeboat Institution as saying that Chinese lanterns are sometimes mistaken for flares and they have had false alarms because of them.
My bipeds had already promised me that they wouldn’t release balloons or lanterns. They signed the RSPCA’s petition calling for a ban on Chinese lanterns in the UK and they will look for petitions calling for a wider ban.
I’ve just heard one of the bipeds putting something in the bin in the kitchen – I have to go and check it out. A dog’s work is never done!
See you next Wednesday!
Update: Serious fire caused by Chinese lantern – article in Guardian 01/07/2013