PUPILS at a village school are sending a clear message out to lazy dog owners who do not pick up after their pets – leaving their community 'littered' with dog mess.
Children at St Edward's First School in Hollow Lane, Cheddleton, are designing posters to be put up around the village in the hope of encouraging dog owners to clean-up after their pets.
The project is being co-ordinated by Victoria Ellis, Community Projects Officer (Community Safety and Enforcement) for Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, who visited the school to talk to pupils about the dangers of dog fouling.
As well as the posters and talk, the district council has erected signs with the 'see it, report it' message.
The campaign comes after pupils using the school's 'walking bus' had been regularly stepping in dog faeces and trampling it into their homes and the school.
Parent Tina Robinson, of Churnet Close, uses the walking bus with her daughter. She said: "It's all over Cheddleton, but it is particularly bad on the route we use for the walking bus, especially the gunnel between Ostlers Lane and the church, where there is dog mess every day.
"Some days I count as many as 12; the other day there was so much it looked like an elephant had done it.
"Someone had already stepped in it and it was so deep if a child had of done that it would have completely covered their foot. It's absolutely disgusting.
"It's horrible and as there are a few leaves on the ground it's very hard to see it.
"I've often end up with it on my pushchair wheels and, not realising, get it in the house.
"It is a major problem so if it's something we can highlight awareness of and shame the people responsible we really should.
"Vicki Ellis has been brilliant and absolutely fantastic in raising awareness with the children."
Tracy Jackson-Ward, headteacher of St Edward First School, said: "As a school we encourage parents to walk to school with their children and dogs, and have had a walking bus for eight years.
"It's awful that paths are covered in dog mess just because some people are too lazy and inconsiderate to pick it up.
"Children are designing posters to be displayed around Cheddleton as a reminder that they care about their environment and want other people to as well."
Councillor Gill Burton, district council cabinet member for communities, said that dog fouling can actually lead to eye problems and even blindness, and children are at particular risk.
She added: "Fortunately this is uncommon, but the risk is very real.
"That's why we're urging people to either clean up after their pet or report it if they witness people not doing so. Our enforcement officers are doing a great job, but they can't be everyone at once.
"We were only to happy to work with St Edwards school to see if we can tackle the problem together.
"By working together with local people we can make a big difference and improve our outdoor areas for the benefit of everyone.
"In the last financial period the council's enforcement officers issued 30 fixed penalty notices of £80 to people who failed to pick up after their dogs, and the number of complaints we receive in relation to dog fouling in the district incurs a cost of responding to these reports in excess of £5,000 per year."
Anyone witnessing incidents should report them on 0345 605 3014