Page last updated at 15:01 GMT, Monday, 12 October 2009 16:01 UK

Deer with 'attitude' savages dogs

Muntjac deer
Muntjac deer have canine fangs and short horns for defending territory

Parents and pet owners have been warned to avoid an ill-tempered deer which slashed two dogs which disturbed it in a Bedfordshire park.

It is thought to be a Chinese water deer or Muntjac, breeds introduced to Britain in the 19th Century, and which can now be found around Ampthill.

Last week a two-year-old Jack Russell was attacked prompting the town council to put up warning signs.

Signs in the park tell people to keep children and pets near to them.

Ten dogs were savaged in and around Laurel Wood at Ampthill Park last winter and spring, and officials believe the same animal might be at work again this year.

Chinese water deer are small and the only deer species in the UK without antlers but they have incisor teeth.

'Nasty wounds'

Muntjac males have horn-like antlers and large canine teeth that grow up to 2.5in (6cm), which they use to fight rivals that set foot in their territory.

The injured Jack Russell, called Gussie, suffered deep slashing wounds after disturbing a deer in a thicket.

Her owner Shelagh Dixon said she was so concerned about the deer attack she contacted the town council.

"Gussie, our dog, had scampered off into a thicket.

"When she came back she had a big deep cut on one side and slashes on her leg.

"We took her to the vet. They were really nasty, deep wounds."

Treatment including stitches and having the wound drained cost £600.

Another Jack Russell was also attacked ten days ago, when it was with two children.

Other dogs have received deep lacerations on their stomachs and necks.

Vet John Wakely said while it was common to hear of deer being attacked, this was the first time in 30 years that he had come across a deer attacking dogs.

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