A dogged effort to clean a beach of its rubbish has seen 250,000 items removed from the seafront - by a litter-picking LABRADOR.
Determined pooch Molly and her owner Fliss Cater say they pick up hundreds of pieces of rubbish everyday - and don't even take a break on Christmas Day.
Two-year-old Molly - a Labrador retriever - would always find plastic bottles as a puppy which inspired Fliss to turn her habit into a good cause.
As a little pup, Molly would speed out onto the beach and pick up as much as she could, but they've since had to implement a more rigid system.Fliss became worried that Molly would find objects that could harm her - so she trained her to find specific items. The smart pooch now knows how to dig up bottles, ropes, toys and buckets when instructed.Fliss, 35, said: "I taught her different commands to keep her safe, because there'll be things on the beach that could harm her."There are needles and sharp objects or just things you wouldn't expect, so I wouldn't let her go and pick anything up on her own."As a puppy she picked up a dead animal once or twice, but I told her off and put on my angriest voice and she's never done it since."Fliss moved to Scarborough, North Yorks., in 2017 where she opened a bath and skincare shop - but she couldn't believe how much litter she found left "senselessly" on the beach.
She was shocked and appalled by the "unavoidable" amount of litter she found while taking Molly for walks along the coastline.
Fliss said: "I've had Molly since she was just nine weeks old and she's always loved picking up plastic bottles.
"Labradors are quite inquisitive and energetic so I was lucky that she immediately had a knack for it."If you live by the beach and enjoy it, I think it's our responsibility to keep it clean.
"In the summer it was impossible to avoid the litter - it was just everywhere."We'll pick up hundreds of items every single day, and I've had to upgrade from small bags to massive bin liners."She loves it so much she doesn't ask for treats when she finds something, all she wants is a 'good girl Molly' and she's a happy dog."When Molly was just four months old she would speed across the beach and return with plastic bottles in her mouth, Fliss recalled.
Fast learner Molly only needed a few months before she knew to look for ropes, spades, buckets, and toys.
Fliss added: "She's such a good girl and she's never had any issues unless she spots a tennis ball - tennis balls take precedence over everything.
"I can't take credit for her great work, she's the best dog and it's really just the way she is."She still doesn't know the difference between an empty discarded bottle and a bottle that is still full which has led to some interesting situations."She'll sometimes come back to me with a full bottle and I'll look across the beach and there'll be a confused person wondering why this dog has just stolen their drink."Her intentions are good though, and she's just trying to do the right thing."Thankfully no one ever gets angry because she's so cute."Rummaging Molly has become somewhat of a celebrity among beach-goers - as it's not every day you see a dog hard at work filling buckets with litter.
Fliss hopes Molly's unique skill set will not only help clean the beach but raise awareness so that people will think twice before littering.The shop owner said: "We get stopped all the time by people who think it's adorable that she's cleaning.
"She gets so much attention and she loves it, she knows she's a bit of a star."Unfortunately Molly can't clean the beach on her own, but she's trying."We want to get people involved or at least make them think twice before disposing of their litter so carelessly."It's particularly alarming on the beach because people will drop rubbish in the sand, and then it's a battle against the tides to beat them to it."Once the tide comes in the litter is gone and will make its way into the sea and threaten our marine life."If you're a business here, who relies on people coming to the beach, I think you've got a responsibility to protect it."Fliss says she never leaves the house without stuffing her bag with bin liners as well as plastic gloves because she knows Molly will always find something.
She said: "We pick litter so often I don't really leave the house without rubber gloves and loads of bags.
"We always pick litter when we go on walks, no matter what.
"Sometimes she'll go off and rummage through bushes and tight spots - and it's brilliant because those are places we simply couldn't reach."She'll try and get what she can but sometimes it's a bit too much with all the fly tipping that's going on."I've had to consider getting her a little cart to save my arms. It's a full body workout."The cleaning duo don't expect to ever complete their task, with Fliss joking that she won't stop until the beach is clean.