Regular pond visitor Anthony Furnival said: “In the past eight days we have had at least three serious incidents involving dogs attacking or attempting to attack birds at Kings Pond because of the vast numbers being walked off leads and thus not under control.
“One has resulted in a gosling needing to go to HART Wildlife Rescue having been seriously injured. It’s not known – at the last check – whether it’ll survive. Its wing was badly damaged and it has developed an infection and is on
Mr Furnival said the five-week-old gosling would have suffered “unimaginable” pain and the attack would have caused “stress and trauma” to its parents. He believed the dog’s owners just left the injured bird.
A member of the public – Terri Quincey, who took the picture – rescued it instead.
Mr Furnival said he witnessed another of the incidents, in which a mallard was attacked by a dog which grasped it in its jaws. He said: “The owner was quick to react and freed the duck, which then flew into the pond.
“It is unknown if it sustained injuries, as sadly once on the pond it’s impossible to tell. One would hope the fact it could fly meant it was okay, but if there was a puncture there would be a risk of infection. That dog was off the lead, too.”
Mr Furnival has been reporting all attacks, near misses and out-of-control dogs he has seen to Alton Town Council’s town clerk Leah Coney, who recently spent a whole Saturday from 7.30am monitoring dog walkers and has put up signs urging people to keep their dog on a lead to protect the birds.
He also saw the third incident: “A dog ran at the birds, which fortunately all got away, but it missed a bird by the smallest of margins. I actually firmly challenged the owners, a couple. While the man accepted they were at fault, the woman was full of excuses. This could have ended up so differently.”
Mr Furnival said the man acknowledged they were in the wrong, having read one of the signs.
But a fourth owner whose dog ran at another dog on a lead and the birds – which escaped into the pond – refused to put it on a lead even when the other dog’s owner pointed out the signs.
The council’s standing orders do not include provision to enforce walking dogs on leads. Mr Furnival said: “The owners are the reason we need to get enforcement rules changed because as far as they are concerned there’s no repercussions.”