I'VE ranted on about litter before.

Many of you will know that it is my pet hate and that I collect it regularly from my local cycle track.

No one taught me how to do this, I just picked it up as I went along. I've moaned at length about the problems that are caused by the stuff thoughtless people discard. I have lost count of the number of cut pads I have treated in dogs that occurred when a canine paw came into contact with a broken bottle. Some lost toes. A couple of unlucky patients contracted such deep infections that legs had to be amputated. All because of morons who couldn’t walk ten yards to a bin.

And it gets worse. Over the last few years, I have had two patients who lost the majority of their tongues. Each had tried to lick a partially opened tin can. Unfortunately for them, the action of their tongue caused the lid to spring back on it, severing it at the base. Both survived, but eating became a difficult, time consuming means to an end; an act of survival, rather than pleasure.

Similarly, I cannot remember how many times I have had to surgically open a dog's abdomen to remove foreign material from the bowel. Quite why some individuals think it is acceptable to leave bin bags strewn about containing corn cobs, peach stones and the like is beyond me.

Cats are affected too. Being inquisitive, they lick at things. Like battery acid. And so they present with excruciatingly painful oral ulceration. Some cope with painkillers and antibiotics but many require general anaesthesia and the placement of oesophageal feeding tubes to allow them sustenance while their lesions heal. Cats, unlike dogs and humans, cannot survive long without regular meals.

How many urban foxes suffer a horrific, slow death as a result of such incidents doesn't bear thinking about, but many must succumb to bowel blockages and infections caused solely by their habit of foraging through bins. Surely we could at least close the lid properly?

Then sometimes the things people throw away really surprise you.

A while ago, a mother and daughter attended the surgery with their cat who was in the process of giving birth. Pretty soon, it became obvious that a kitten was stuck tight and no amount of manipulation was going to sort it. A Caesarean section was required, if queen and offspring were to survive. Without batting an eyelid, the owners left, saying they were off to the bank to get some money to pay their bill. And they never ever came back.

In due course, and at our expense, the operation was carried out and I am pleased to say the mum and three kittens did very well and, eventually, found decent forever homes. But the owners were never seen again.

The police seemed disinterested in attending the address the people had given us. The pair just treated their cat like another bit of litter to be thoughtlessly discarded. It's a throw-away society indeed.