THE OWNER of three internet star dogs is calling on people to respect beauty spots in West Cumbria.

Kerry Irving, owner of Spaniels Max, Paddy and Harry, has launched his #PawsAgainstPlastic appeal calling on people to do more for the environment.

Around 70 people joined him and his pups in a litter pick to clean up Allonby beach. The event, organised by Cockermouth Community Hospital League of Friends, also raised over £450 to buy specialist equipment for the hospital.

Around 20 bags of rubbish were collected by the group and their dogs, who ended the day with an ice cream.

And now Kerry is raising awareness of the dangers of litter and is using his 78,000-strong following on his Facebook page Max Out in the Lake District to call on people to take more responsibility for the area.

Kerry said: “It was nice how everyone came together, we had good fun. Some people came from as far as Chorley and Yorkshire – they wanted to meet the dogs and they obviously like the area so they wanted to be part of it.”

He added turning the litter-pick into a social event helped spread the message about the importance of keeping the area clean.

Kerry’s dog Paddy was injured last week when he walked through broken glass while out in the Lake District. He said in the last two years he spent more than £500 to treat paw injuries due to broken glass alone.

“This litter pick can’t have been more timely. Paddy is fine now, but he’s lucky the glass didn’t cut through an artery in his foot.”

Kerry wants to see clear policies issued for dog owners on how to deal with dog mess in the countryside.

He said: “People obviously don’t want to see bins on top of a fell and it would be hard to collect it anyway. It’s shocking to see how many bags you see in the woods because people can’t be bothered to take it home. The Forestry Commission has a policy of using the stick and flick method on their land, but what should dog owners do elsewhere?”

Kerry says some dog owner irresponsibly leave bagged-up poo around the Lake District, harming the environment and spoiling the views. He said: “As the Lake District becomes more popular we need more enforcement. Some people are very responsible but some really aren’t and they just leave their rubbish behind for someone else to deal with.”

A spokesman for the Lake District National Park Authority said: “It is totally unacceptable to bag dog waste and leave it behind. The Lake District National Park is for everyone to enjoy. Please respect the environment and take your litter and dog waste home with you.”

And a spokesman for Copeland Council warned that dog owners could be fined if caught leaving dog mess: “Our policy is the same in the Lake District as outside it. If people are caught failing to pick up after their pets, they are subject to a fixed penalty notice.

“We have a visible presence across the whole of Copeland, combining routine patrols with targeting of known problem areas. This includes rural areas. We wouldn’t support the ‘stick and flick’ method; dog owners must pick up after the pets and place the bag in the nearest bin or take it home with them.”

Allerdale council also has a policy of issuing fines to people failing to pick up after their dogs.

Kerry is also targeting people who throw their rubbish in the countryside. “Everywhere we go we see plastic wrappers from sandwiches and bottles.

“People need to be educated about the dangers. The plastic used to hold cans can be very dangerous to animals like badgers and foxes. And how long is that rubbish going to be there before it starts to degrade?”

He’s also calling on producers and business owners to reduce the amount of plastic they use in products.

He said: “I’d like to see the big companies like Coca-Cola starting to use biodegradable cans.

“We have these targets to reduce waste by 2025 but we need to start now.

“In some supermarkets you can spend more money for less food because it’s ready to eat. It only takes a few seconds to peel a carrot, you really don’t need that level of convenience all the time.”

Kerry said he was concerned about the lack of bins in rural areas, with people leaving their rubbish behind. “I think it’s about educating people, but more should be done to encourage them and enforce,” he said.

Kerry added that it wasn’t just the Lakeland countryside he was concerned about, but he feels recycling bins should also be provided in town centres.

However both Allerdale and Copeland councils said they are meeting or exceeding their targets for recycling.

A spokesman for Allerdale Council said: “Not all waste goes to landfill. The waste collected in generic waste bins is treated at the Mechanical Biological Treatment Plant, which refines and extracts materials that can be used. Allerdale’s recycling at the last quarter to the end of December was 39 per cent which was higher than the target of 33 per cent.”

A Copeland Council spokesman said: “Copeland’s target for 2018-19 was 40 per cent and we have met that. Our kerbside recycling rates have more than doubled in the past 12 months since we launched our new services, for example 266 tonnes in March 2019 compared to 128 tonnes in March 2018. We have collected 9,284 tonnes in 2018/19.”

A spokesman for Cumbria County Council said the authority was achieving over 70 per cent of recycling targets.