I saw a sign hanging in a wooded area that read: ‘As you are so confident in the biodegradability of your used dog poo bag, please take it home to your own garden and hang it in your own tree. Thank you. From the wildlife.’

On the same day I had a request from a friend to discuss what is clearly a continuing and divisive problem, that of abandoned dog mess around popular walking routes. I did write about this topic some time ago, but clearly some dog owners are still upsetting others with their thoughtless actions. It is worth pointing out that many of the people who are upset are dog owners themselves, tired of being tarred with the same brush as the thoughtless and ignorant ones.

Am I alone in remembering that, as a child in the 1970s, it was my responsibility to watch out for doggy business on footpaths? If I trod in it, I was my fault for not paying attention to where I was putting my feet. The owner was not expected to pick it up, nor were they blamed for the fact that their pet decided to go to the toilet on the path. Dogs would be dogs. Times changed once someone invented a special bag which you could use to pick up the poo, and then later, another invented dedicated bins in which to place them. Thankfully over time it became socially unacceptable to not pick up Fido’s dirty deposits.

Darlington and Stockton Times: They may look adorable, but what they leave behind is causing a big problem

But since then of course, we have become more aware of how polluting plastic bags are and how much damage they do to our water and land-dwelling wildlife, and to the habitats in which they dwell. As a result of this never-ending problem, a clever person then invented the biodegradable poo bag, which seemed to be the answer to all our problems. The guilt of sealing it inside a bag evaporated.

If only. As we all know, a solution to one problem usually creates another. The newish problem is that some dippy dog owners among us now dispose of their bulging bags by either tossing them into bushes or hanging them on trees. They think that they do no harm because the bag will degrade over time. Little matter to them that they take weeks or even months to do so. What an utterly selfish approach that is.

I don’t know about you, but on my walks, I like to admire the flora and fauna as nature intended, and not as a doggy-doo-doo dumping ground. Who on earth enjoys seeing a smelly bag dangling from a hawthorn like a bauble on Shrek’s Christmas tree? However annoying it is that your pooch chooses to perform early on your walk miles from a suitable bin, you chose to have a dog, so you still have to deal with it considerately. Lobbing it into the bushes, even in a biodegradable bag, is not acceptable. Some people declare that they plan to collect it on the return journey. Even if that is the case, it still means that A: other people have to walk past it. B: You might forget it. And C: Judging by how many I see abandoned, that’s a lie. It is more likely that you can’t be bothered to carry it.

Darlington and Stockton Times: They may look adorable, but what they leave behind is causing a big problem

There are occasions, though, where the ‘stick and flick’ method might be acceptable, and even preferable, to using bags. In areas where there is dense undergrowth, you are encouraged to use a stick to flick it away, out of sight where no-one is likely to step on it. That way it will happily fertilise the ground and erases the need to bag it and carry it. However, a quick look at the Forestry England and National Trust websites shows that their policies are still to bag it and either bin it or take it home. The reasoning is that certain livestock and animals can be poisoned through eating dog faeces and ingesting plastic, even if it is biodegradable.

So what is the answer? More bins around country car parks and walks, and signage clearly illustrating the preferred methods and locations for disposal would help. But I have a feeling this is a debate that will run and run.

Do you have memories to share or ideas for this column? Contact me via my webpage at countrymansdaughter.com, or email dst@nne.co.uk.