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Animals suffer due to litter louts

NEARLY 70,000 animals were treated by vets for injuries or illness caused by litter last year - including a baby hedgehog strangled by a plastic bag and a dog that had its tongue cut off by a piece of broken glass.

Clean-up campaigners Keep Britain Tidy have launched a poster campaign featuring pictures of dead cats and dogs to illustrate the fact that litter not only destroys the environment - it kills animals, too.

The visuals, which feature the slogas, "Molly Wasn't A Road Kill" aims to entice teenagers on to the Internet (www.didyoudoit.co.uk) to find out who murdered the dog and killed the cat.

Once there, children are asked a series of questions which if answered correctly can lead to their winning concert tickets and other prizes. But they also get a less appealing surprise when they find that the finger of blame for this animal anguish is pointed in their direction!

The drive follows research published this which not only confirms that teenagers are most to blame for littering - but also gives their reasons for doing so. Chief among the findings of the report are that littering is now viewed as the norm for almost all 13-16 year olds, that schools (particularly playing fields) are swamped with rubbish and that kids are only prepared to pick up litter if they are offered a sizeable cash reward or a nice day out from school.

* Vets treated on average, 21 animals for injuries caused by trash last year.

* There were many cases of dogs and cats being injured by broken glass. This included a dog in Dorset who had part of its paw pad shorn off and a canine in Aberdeen who ended up with a foot deformity having received major treatment for a glass cut.

* A dog in Surrey swallowed plastic that became embedded in its stomach resulting in cancer and eventually, death.

* One practice in Warrington reported several cases of pets getting chewing gum stuck in their fur.

* A dog lover in London ended up shelling out £2000 in vet's bills after their pet swallowed a cork and needed extensive surgery.

* A dog in Belfast had its nose lacerated by broken glass

* A peregrine falcon in Northern Ireland was unable to fly for three months after damaging a tendon in one of its legs after it got caught up in a plastic can holder.

* A dog in Surrey severed its leg on a discarded ring pull from a Coke can.

* One vet in Coleraine, Northern Ireland reported several cases of animals being poisoned by eating littered batteries and paint tins.

* The most common form of injury reported by our vets, were:

1. Cuts caused by glass (88% of vets treated these)
2. Swallowing discarded food (71% - including many cases of dogs and cats contracting gastroenteritis)
3. Cuts caused by cans (51%) and,
4. Injuries, including suffocation, caused by littered plastic bags (28%)

* Twenty six per cent of the vets who responded to our survey had treated over 100 injuries caused by litter during the last year.

Keep Britain Tidy website: www.encams.org.uk