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Last Updated: Friday, 1 June 2007, 11:15 GMT 12:15 UK
Pet dogs 'killing wild animals'
Swan that was killed by dog
Many owners don't realise the danger their dogs pose to wildlife
Dozens of young animals including swans and badgers have been killed by dogs which have been let of their leads, an animal charity has warned.

The Scottish SPCA has called for dog walkers to be more aware of the danger their pets pose to wildlife.

They said the risks were particularly high at this time of year, when many species are rearing their young.

In one recent case, a swan was so badly injured by a Rottweiler dog that it had to be humanely destroyed.

A pet terrier which had been allowed to run loose in a wildlife reserve by its elderly owner was later found to have scampered down a badger's set, where it killed a cub.

Other animals including deer, foxes and ducks have also been regularly attacked by dogs, the charity said, often without their owners even realising.

People do not appreciate what their pets are capable of. Many dogs are natural hunters and let loose they will attack wildlife
Ben Mitchell
RSPB warden

Scottish SPCA spokeswoman Doreen Graham said many dog attacks on wildlife were simply due to a lack of awareness and carelessness on the part of owners rather than any malicious intent.

She said dog owners should resist the temptation to let their pets run free in woodland or near canals and riverbanks, where many animals and birds are bringing up their young.

Mrs Graham said: "We are not saying a dog should be on the lead at all times, but all this can be avoided if people keep their dog on a lead in certain areas where there are vulnerable animals.

"We must make people aware of this issue and ensure people are responsible for their actions.

"Through their thoughtlessness they are causing the death of Scottish wildlife."

Mrs Graham said dogs were also at risk of being attacked and badly injured by wild animals if they were allowed to get too close.

Swan that was killed by dog
A pet dog killed this badger cub after burrowing into its set

She said: "Badgers and foxes are not normally vicious, but they will fight for their young when cornered.

"A swan protecting her young will view any dog as a potential predator and a risk."

Ben Mitchell, a warden for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in Lanarkshire, said he had encountered many incidents of pet dogs killing wildlife.

He said: "People do not appreciate what their pets are capable of. Many dogs are natural hunters and let loose they will attack wildlife.

"I have seen swans torn apart by people's pets. I also recently had to retrieve a very young badger which had been killed by a pet Jack Russell.

"At first it looked like a case of badger baiting, but when the owner turned up he was very distressed."

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