DEVASTATED Marie Sawle has urged other dog owners to take extra care in the countryside after her beloved pet died from suspected poisoning.
Mrs Sawle, 44, is heartbroken after her three-year-old Labrador Louis was suddenly taken ill and died from massive liver and kidney failure.
A post-mortem examination revealed the dog probably died from a man-made poison commonly used to cull badgers and foxes.
Mrs Sawle believes Louis ate poison-laden bait while they walked on a footpath that crossed farmland somewhere between her home in Hambledon and Soberton.
The death has come as a major blow to Mrs Sawle and her husband Andrew Jones as Louis ‘gave her away’ at their wedding at The Kennels at Goodwood, near Chichester, earlier this year.
Mrs Sawle, who set up her own pet company and appeared on BBC’s Dragons’ Den, said: ‘We are trying to move on, but the grief has been pretty intense. Sadly, Andrew and I couldn’t have children, so our dogs were literally our children. I have shed more tears than I have in a long time.’
Two dogs from nearby Meonstoke have also died in similar circumstances.
However, while there is a suspicion they may have been poisoned, a post-mortem was inconclusive.
The law states that, with the correct licence, farmers are allowed to use pesticides to protect livestock or crops.
But Mrs Sawle is urging dog walkers to be vigilant and says farmers should put up signs if poisoned bait is being used.
She said: ‘Although farmers are permitted to protect their crops and livestock, they must do it in a way that does not endanger the lives of other animals such as dogs.
‘If you’re in an unfamiliar area, keep your dogs close and look out for anything your dog shows an interest in eating.
‘Through better awareness I hope dog owners will seek help immediately if they notice their dog suddenly becomes unwell, which may stop the poisoning becoming fatal.’
Ice cream for dogs takes world by storm
MARIE Sawle is famous in the canine world for inventing the world’s first ice cream for dogs.
Her Billy+Margot brand of ice creams have taken the world by storm after she was able to grow the business following an investment of £60,000 from Deborah Meaden on BBC’s Dragons’ Den two years ago.
Labrador Billy died four years ago, but the product continues in his memory.
Technically, the product is not ice cream as there is no cream.
Instead, it contains potato flour, coconut oil and flaxseed oil and is designed for dogs’ palates.
It has been snapped up by more than 200 stockists and many tens of thousands of tubs have been sold.