Dog walkers warned to stay away from ‘toxic’ New Forest beauty spot after ELEVEN pets die from mystery illness
- Vets say toxin causes kidney failure in dogs if it enters bloodstream
- Site was used to test bombs during the Second World War
- Louise Beal lost springer spaniel Bruno after he cut his paw during a walk
By Luke Salkeld, Daily Mail online
Dog walkers are being warned to stay away from a popular beauty spot after fears at least 11 pets have been killed by poison.
A toxin in the earth or water has been picked up by the animals as they are exercised in the New Forest, it is feared.
Vets say the dogs have been poisoned through small cuts in their legs or paws – and then their kidneys have failed.
Eleven dogs are known to have died in recent months after being exercised at Latchmore Brook in Hampshire.
But there are fears there could be more cases if pets belonging to tourists or visitors have been taken home before the symptoms have been detected.
The area was used to test bombs during the Second World War, raising fears that experiments involving deadly chemicals may be to blame. It is also thought the water or soil-borne poison has been disturbed by heavy rain at the beauty spot.
Louise Beal lost her springer spaniel Bruno a week after he cut his paw during a walk at the spot. She treated the wound with disinfectant and took him to the vet two days later where he was given antibiotics, but his condition deteriorated rapidly. He was hooked up to a drip and seen by renal specialists, but all efforts to save him failed
Mrs Beal said: ‘The vet thinks it’s an unidentified toxin that has worked its way up through disturbed soil, a bit like anthrax.
‘We just want to save other people having to go through this – it’s been the most awful week.’
Mrs Beal, from North Gorley, Hampshire, added: ‘I’m worried that the weather will warm up and small children will be playing up at the site. ‘I dread to think what will happen if this affects humans too.’
Tracey Matherick, 45, from Chard, Somerset, was one of the first owners to see her dog fall victim to the toxin.
One of her six Siberian huskies came home from a walk in the New Forest with a sore paw. ‘Both my husband and I didn’t think anything of it at first,’ she said. ‘Two days later her whole paw and leg had swollen up. Mrs Matherick, a school dinner lady, took Boo to the vet where she had ‘treatment after treatment’. After tests showed kidney and liver failure, she had to put the dog down.
Yesterday local vet Nikki Bentley warned dog owners to avoid Latchmore Brook. She said: ‘Some areas are not safe. Hundreds of people walk their dogs in the forest every day because of its natural beauty, but they shouldn’t take the risk.’
Tissue samples from the dead pets have been sent to a US laboratory which specialises in renal problems in dogs, but the results could take weeks to arrive.
The deaths are also being investigated by the Forestry Commission, the Environment Agency and New Forest District Council.
Anyone who does visit the area is advised to wash their dogs’ paws, examine them thoroughly and seek help if there are signs of injury.
Latchmore Brook formed part of Ashley Walk Bombing Range from 1940 to 1946. More than 2,000 hectares were used as a test and practice range for different Second World War munitions.