Fri, 06 May 2016
A second dog has died at Greenham Common after swallowing cattle feed pellets, it has emerged.
As reported in last week’s Newbury Weekly News, Newbury man Simon Wilson, aged 46, took his two King Charles spaniel dogs Max and Paddy for a walk on the common last month.
They both swallowed concentrated sugar beet pellets which are used as feed by cattle graziers and had been left out by a farmer. One of the dogs died a day later at a local vet’s.
The Newbury Weekly News has since learned that the tragedy came after the death of another dog who died as a result of ingesting the pellets.
Now, Mr Wilson has called for urgent action to prevent further deaths. Speaking of the incident, on April 20, when his dog Paddy ate the pellets, Mr Wilson said: “It was agonising to see him like that. We can’t bring him back, nothing is going to bring him back. I feel let down by the managers at the common.
“There [was] no signage warning that there is potentially lethal stuff on the common that could kill your dog. If we had seen that we would have turned the car around and gone elsewhere. Had they posted that up I do see a lot of people would turn around. Imagine if a child had picked it up and eaten it.
“It just seems to be a bit of a cavalier attitude as [the graziers] know that kind of feed could be a risk to animals and, if they know that, why are they using it on public space? We are very angry about this. Dogs are so quick they see something on the floor and to them everything is a sweet. Their life is run by food. If something is lying on the floor they will pick it up.
“People just need to be made aware that this is going on. The farmers are doing what they can, but it only takes one maverick. I would call for some direct action to prevent that risk.”
Speaking of his two dogs he said: “[Paddy] was particularly healthy. He has travelled half way around the world and braved snakes in Australia.”
He said that the vet who saw him at Falkland Surgery told him it was the fastest deterioration he had ever seen after the dog was first brought in.
Mr Wilson added: “They are from the same litter, they were together in the womb. [Max] is just gutted because he can’t understand why his best friend has been taken away.
“Every time someone comes to the door he is looking out for him and expecting him to be there, but he isn’t coming back.”
Following the outcry and after subsequent discussion with Mr Wilson, Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust has since erected signs at Greenham Common warning dog owners of the risks and stating that it is working with farmers to stop the pellets being used.
A spokesperson from BBOWT said that the wildlife trust first heard of the incidents on Facebook on April 22.
“Over that weekend BBOWT posted messages on Facebook warning dog owners to be vigilant and keep their dogs under close control.
“BBOWT also installed signs on the common as soon as we had spoken to the owner of the first dog that died, and had identified the location where his dogs had been eating.
“West Berkshire Council’s animal health officer visited the site as soon as the council was made aware of the issue.
“The council is supporting BBOWT’s actions in seeking assurances from the graziers that sugar beet pellets will not be used in future.
“BBOWT has spoken to all the farmers with cattle on the common, and they have given assurances they will not use these pellets.
“It is very important to stop this problem at source so that visitors to Greenham Common can continue to enjoy this beautiful nature reserve and open space.
“There may be a small amount of residual food left on the common, but this is made safe by rain soaking into them, or the cattle eating them.”
She added that later this month the wildlife trust would discuss the issue with the Greenham and Crookham Commons Commission.