A DOG owner has issued an urgent plea for people to properly dispose of face masks after her pooch swallowed one whole.

Julie Samuels was out walking her golden retriever Logan near her home in Ladram Road, Thorpe Bay, when he sniffed out a discarded face mask on the ground, and ate it.

Ms Samuels, 61, realised what Logan had done and immediately rushed him to Downes Medivet after the incident on Thursday evening.

Vets were able to make Logan vomit the mask out. However, Ms Samuels fears the situation could have been much worse and has called on people to properly dispose of face masks.

She said: “The vet believes the mask owner had probably recently eaten, and the remains of the smell or something was on there, and that’s attracted him to it.

“Apart from the infection risk, the consequences could have been catastrophic had the mask and ear loops got caught up in Logan’s intestines.

“I accept there are occasions when a face mask might fall out of someone’s pocket but there are just too many of these discarded masks in our parks, on the streets and along the seafront and beach for this to be the case every time.”

Ms Samuels is now so fearful of Logan swallowing another mask she is muzzling him on walks, despite him being a very friendly dog.

She added: “It won’t be pleasant for him and people will assume I’ve got a vicious animal but I can’t risk this sort of thing happening again.

“I feel really passionately about raising awareness and the correct disposal of used face masks.”

James Vessey-Miller, chairman of the South East Essex Green Party, said the discarding of PPE in the Southend borough and across the country has “sky-rocketed out of control”.

The party’s volunteers have picked up numerous dumped masks, gloves and gowns while on litter picks throughout this year, most of which are made of materials that are not biodegradable or recyclable.

Mr Vessey-Miller said: “I’m glad that Logan is okay following this traumatic experience, and I’m glad the vets at Downes were able to help in this instance. Unfortunately the many thousands of wild animals with whom we share the borough with won’t receive such immediate treatment should they fall into similar circumstances.”

“Discarded PPE poses an unnecessary increase in risk and workload for our town’s refuse collectors, street cleaning teams, and the council’s parks department, who as often-overlooked essential workers, are already working hard through lockdown to keep our streets and green spaces safe, open, and tidy.

“There is no excuse for discarding used PPE or cleaning wipes on our streets.”

and doing so could endanger our key workers and result in offenders being issued with fines from £150 to £2500.”