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Monday, May 30, 2011

Police probe as 13 dogs are poisoned to death on country footpath

By Daily Mail Reporter

-Three dogs remain in 'grave' condition
-Footpath now cordoned off
-'We also cannot rule out the possibility that this is being done deliberately' say RSPCA

Cordoned off: The footpath in Cross Hills, North Yorkshire, will be out of access until experts have determined why 13 dogs have died in the past few days

Police have launched a probe to investigate a rural footpath after 13 dogs were mysteriously poisoned to death over the course of just a few days.

The horrifying series of deaths in Cross Hills, North Yorkshire, occurred within an hour of owners talking their pets for a walk along the path, which has now been cordoned off.

The RSPCA say they are unsure whether the fatalities have been caused
deliberately but have appealed for dog owners to stay away from the path.

Eileen Johnson's Jack Russell Diesel was one of the first dogs to mysteriously die when he collapsed just ten minutes after returning home from a walk.

Devastated Mrs Johnson 71, had put the kettle on after the walk when she heard a thump and when she turned round she saw her six-year-old pet having a fit.

She said: 'We walk the fields five days a week and I can't believe this has
happened. He was a lovely, lively little thing.

'He'd never been ill and then he died so suddenly as if someone just came in and shot him in front of my eyes.

'We took him to the vets but by the time we got there he was already dead.

'The vet initially thought it was a heart attack, because Diesel was one of the first dogs to die, but now we're waiting for post-mortem results.'

RSPCA animal welfare officer Sally Ramsden said: 'We are extremely concerned about this situation.

'People are taking their dogs out along this footpath and within less than 20 minutes, the dogs are suffering convulsions and dying.

'We don't know what could be causing this but we strongly suspect that the dogs may have been poisoned.

'We also cannot rule out the possibility that this is being done deliberately.

'These dogs have suffered horrendously and we desperately need to hear from anyone who has information about these incidents.

'In the meantime, we really need people to stop walking their dogs on this footpath.'

RSPCA spokeswoman Leanne Plumtree said that the dogs had all displayed symptoms of poisoning after taking strolls on the path just off Station Road in Cross Hills.

She said: 'This is one of those incidents that really has grown and grown. The first of these incidents happened last week and was reported to us on Thursday.

'We thought it was probably an isolated thing at first but then we heard about more and more dogs getting poisoned in the area.

'Of course not all of the dogs have been referred to the RSPCA, we have been working with two vets in the area who have confirmed the deaths.

'We are really concerned that people stay out of the area with their pets.

'This particular footpath seems to have been pinpointed in an area where a lot of dogs are walked.

'But of course we don't know for sure where they have picked this up from or what they have picked up.'

Miss Plumtree said that the dogs had very quickly shown symptoms after eating the poison, convulsing and frothing at the mouth before dying within an hour.

Victim: Jack Russell Diesel, shown here with his owner Ken Johnson, died soon after returning from a walk along the path

Post-mortems are being carried out but the Environmental Agency says it does not believe the deaths were caused by eating blue-green algae from a lake near the fields.

Worried dog walkers say the death toll has reached 13, with three dogs still gravely ill.

Mum-of-two Louise Horsforth, 46, said: 'My dog Lola, a cross springer crocker spaniel, had a lucky escape.

'She started fitting after her walk on Sunday evening, at first the vet thought it was epilepsy but they took it really seriously.

'It's so strange that so many dogs have died, I am so lucky Lola survived - my kids would have been devastated.'

Miss Plumtree added: 'The police have cordoned the footpath off to try and prevent any other deaths occurring. We are hopeful that it could just be an accident but this is obviously very unusual.

'We have spoken to a few of the owners and they are obviously very distressed and finding it difficult to understand what exactly has happened.

'We desperately want to hear from anybody who knows anything that might be able to help us with our enquiries.



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