WIRRAL anglers are being encouraged to leave “only their footprints” after a dog needed an expensive and dangerous operation when a fishing hook discarded on New Brighton beach became lodged near her heart.

Evelyn Moir hit out after her beloved Jack Russell “Nell” swallowed the fish hook – which was attached to bait left on the beach - during a walk along the beach on the morning of November 5.

It was an anxious wait for 67-year-old Evelyn and husband and Brian as veterinary surgeon Phil Shepherd from Birch Veterinary Centre in Oxton operated to remove the hook.

“It was a very tricky operation and we are so grateful for his skill and for the car of the staff there – she is very lucky to have survived,” said Evelyn.

She added: “On several occasions I have found discarded fishing tackle lying on the sand and have disposed of it in the bin. Please be vigilant other dog walkers and parents of young children as these hooks are lethal.

“Dog owners often get a bad press for not clearing up after their dogs and the New Brighteners do a fantastic job clearing up litter from our beautiful shoreline but the behaviour of some fishermen leaves a lot to be desired.

“It is especially noticeable after competitions when discarded fish heads are left littering the beach. If Wirral Council would erect warning signs that would be a big step forward.”

Wirral Globe: New Brighton could become Wirral's first 'dog free beach'
New Brighton beach.

Following the Globe’s coverage of Evelyn and Nell’s ordeal, The Angling Trust has issued a plea to local anglers to ensure a similar incident does not happen again.

The Trust says many angling competition organisers have rules banning anglers from leaving litter and angling clubs work with local authorities and environmental organisations to provide bins and reduce the amount of litter, no matter where it has come from.

But unfortunately, the Trust says a small minority of people continue to leave litter whether they be anglers or other beach users.

David Mitchell, marine campaigns manager for the Trust, told the Globe the organisation actively promotes environmental improvement campaigns, including their “Just Take 5” and “Tidy Angler” projects where volunteer anglers work to clean up rivers, canals, lakes and beaches.

He said: “Beaches are public spaces and everyone should expect to be able to enjoy them. It’s very sad that Mrs Moir’s dog, Nell, was injured in this way.

“We would encourage all local anglers to leave only their footprints after fishing and not just remove their own items but contribute to keeping our coastlines safe and beautiful by removing any other litter they come across.

“Thousands of sea anglers are already doing this and whilst this was an unfortunate incident we hope anglers can be seen as part of the solution, rather than the problem, of littering.”

While Nell is on her way to making a full recovery, Evelyn hopes her ordeal will help people realise the impact of littering.

Wirral Globe: Evelyn Moir with dog Nell. 

Evelyn added: “My message to those who leave any kind of litter on the beach is please consider others, especially children and dogs who love spending time on the wonderful stretches of sand on our coastline.

“Also to remember the danger to wildlife from the discarded litter. It doesn’t take a moment to clear up after yourselves and ensure that our children and pets are kept safe.”