Meet Joy, the dog helping save the environment one plastic bottle at a time.
Labrador Joy and her owner Alex van Eck have become Insta-famous for their cleaning up routine – sparking copycat environmentalists around the world.
Alex has meticulously trained Joy to sniff out litter such as discarded drinks bottles, six pack rings, crisp packets during their daily walks in Utrecht, Netherlands.
Once off the leash, Joy will run off in search of any rubbish, before grabbing it in her mouth and ferrying it back to her owner, who bags it up for recycling.
The duo now regularly walk several miles a day during their four walks – filling up large bin bags full with trash.
Alex said: “What we encounter with waste is sometimes overwhelming – especially in parking lots and sadly in nature reserves too.
“It is not uncommon for us to collect a few bags full of waste per afternoon.”
Alex began training Joy last July and she quickly learned her new trade – thanks to the help of some well-placed treats.
Joy’s owner explained: “I trained Joy by hiding sample bottles with chunks of food inside them.
“Slowly she began to learn that she got a reward when she traced the bottle or can and brought it to me to clean up.
“We went further and further training with different items and she learned very quickly.
“While teaching her, having patience was very important.”
Soon after Alex began recording Joy’s activities on Instagram, and quickly racked up thousands of new followers.
Ably assisted by his two sons, Justin, 14, and Mitchell, 10, they have built up a network of other dog owners, who along with their pets, collect litter during their daily walks.
Their mission, which they hashtag #EnjoyCleaningUp, has spread as far as Florida, Melbourne and the UK.
Alex said: “The biggest reward is the clean nature we leave behind when we are done.
“The only awards we are very proud of are that there are now twenty other dogs inspired by Joy across the world, as well as the Netherlands.
“These are only the ones I know about, but I hope many more people and dogs will follow our lead – together we can make a difference.”