Who knew that the debate about dog poo disposal would resonate across the globe?

Sarah Tyson got in touch all the way from Hahndorf in South Australia with this interesting idea: “I discovered, entirely by accident, that dog poo composts very well if placed in an open-bottomed bin with an equal volume of vegetable matter. I have two large dogs who generate the poo, and two large teenagers who generate a lot of food and paper scraps. I place both kinds of waste in my 220L compost bin and they disappear very quickly. And no smell! (caveat: I have affixed a mesh base to the open bottom of the bin to deter rodents).”

This message sparked so many questions in my head that I wanted to ask Sarah directly, so I got back in touch with her. I particularly wanted to know how well the rat-deterring mesh worked. Sarah replied that although she has been rat-free for the past five years, it was a case of trial and error before she got it right.

“We did have an issue with rodents after the first six months,” she says. “I tackled this by moving to another spot (it took them a while to learn where the bin went, and I needed the first layers to start decomposing, and not be eaten!).”

Darlington and Stockton Times: Should we compost our dog waste like Sarah Tyson from Australia?

Sarah tried nailing a circle of wire mesh across the base but it dawned on her that if the mesh was soft enough for her to cut through with her snippers, it was unlikely to be any match to a determined rat’s incisors. But then she had an idea. She cut a circle of mesh matching the circumference of the bin, then laid it on top of a few sheets of chicken wire, which she overlapped in different directions to make the holes smaller. “I chose the chicken wire because it was just there and available, along with some crummy scrunched up wire lying around on my friend’s farm.” It worked, and since then the eco-friendly compost bin has not attracted any rodents. I hope the up-cyclers among you are impressed with Sarah’s ingenuity!

I wondered if, like here, there are thoughtless dog owners in Australia who also toss poo bags into trees. It’s interesting to discover how other countries deal with the same problems as ours, so I hope you’ll forgive me for devoting quite a bit of space to Sarah’s reply.

“The issue with poo bags depends on where you walk,” she says. “In most dog parks some people leave their bags where paths meet but almost always pick them up on the return journey. I have found that people pick mine up too which is fantastic, especially if I am having a bad day. In return I always pick up other people’s bags when I am having a good day!”

As for the open countryside (which Australians call ‘bushland’) she says: “I have never seen bags or unbagged poo left behind in natural bushland.” Applause for the Aussies then!

But stop applauding now, because it is a different story in public parks. “I often see poo on bike and walk tracks in the more formal parks and bikeways and it almost always has been stepped in or ridden through so it’s EVERYWHERE and so, so gross!” She adds, however, that in towns and on suburban footpaths no-one leaves dog mess or bags behind. Resume your applause!

She continues: “There are always poo bag dispensers everywhere and plenty of rubbish bins to put them in. The bins at dog parks are very, very full and although they are emptied regularly, they stink and I feel sorry for anyone living within smelling range.” That sounds very familiar to us, doesn’t it! But Sarah has a suggestion: “Perhaps the council should adopt my idea of compost and poo. It would be pretty simple for them to drive past and dump some plant clippings in once a week. Our poo bags recently changed from regular plastic to biodegradable plastic. I think this may sow the thought of composting with other dog owners.”

Are any of you tempted to have a go at composting your own dog poo? Or should we suggest it to our local council? It could just be the answer to a very messy and long-standing problem.

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