Dangerous dogs pose serious risk on Hampstead Heath

I agree with the comments made by Ron Vester in regard to irresponsible dog ownership (Horror of attack on Heath swans, H&H letters, January 4). However, it is important to point out that it is a minority of dog owners on the Heath who are irresponsible

I agree with the comments made by Ron Vester in regard to irresponsible dog ownership (Horror of attack on Heath swans, H&H letters, January 4). However, it is important to point out that it is a minority of dog owners on the Heath who are 'irresponsible'. And the dogs of 'responsible' dog owners suffer as much as the wildlife from these excesses.

I abhor the owners who allow their dogs to bait swans. It is irredeemable awful. However, other dogs suffer the spin offs.

Some three years ago, my dog was attacked by the male swan at the Vale of Health pond, who had been teased and taunted mercilessly by a few dogs that were out of control. The swan attacked my dog because, in his eyes, he had learned that all dogs were bad.

My dog was almost drowned by the swan, and was saved only by my intervention. He suffered a broken and infected tail as a consequence, which had to be surgically amputated.


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My dog was doing nothing wrong, he was simply paddling in the pond when the swan attacked him. This was a unilateral attack by the swan on a dog, and this was not a unique event.

So, please, let us distinguish the majority of responsible dog owners from the minority who allow, or even encourage, this aggression from their animals. And, finally, an out of control dog can be as dangerous on a lead as off it.

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It is the duty of both the Heath staff and other walkers - whether with dogs or not - to discourage this unacceptable behaviour.

Jo Konrad

Wedderburn Road, NW3

ON behalf of people (myself included) who walk their dogs every day on the Heath, could I thank Ron Vester for the photographs which accompanied his letter last week.

A dog which killed a Yorkshire terrier was reported in your pages last year but no accurate description was given. The dog in the photograph appears to be an un-castrated dark brindle and white Staffordshire terrier-type dog wearing a wide collar and possibly with cropped ears - a mutilation which is illegal in this country.

Now all of us can be vigilant and report this dog to Heath rangers the minute we spot it with a view to the owner being traced and prosecuted by the police under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

At the very least the owner should be banned from bringing this dog to the Heath - in accordance with the byelaws.

On the subject of injury to wildlife could I suggest that more damage is caused to waterbirds by anglers than dogs (last year I reported swans trailing fishing line to the estate office on three separate occasions) - but that's another subject.

A Farlow

Lyndale Avenue, NW2

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