Fareham and Gosport dog owners call on council to review its use of weedkiller after spate of sick dogs

DOG owners are calling on a council to review its weed killing procedures after their beloved pets became sick following spraying in their neighbourhoods.

Thursday, 17th June 2021, 11:06 am

Helen Yates, from Crofton Lane, in Stubbington, said her Hungarian rescue dog Pablo became ill after a walk last month.

After they rushed him to the vets, and following £1,400 worth of treatment to save him, her and partner Andy Griffiths noticed weeds on their usual route turning brown, leading them to suspect Pablo had a reaction after possible contact with the weed killer.

She said: ‘We honestly thought we had lost him which would have been unbearable as we only just rescued him in March.’

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Pablo, with owners Andy Griffiths (50) and Helen Yates (50). Picture: Mike Cooter (080621)
Pablo, with owners Andy Griffiths (50) and Helen Yates (50). Picture: Mike Cooter (080621)

Another pet owner whose dog suffered a similar reaction is Chris Jones, who also lives in Crofton Lane.

Chris’s dog Teddy became sick after a walk in the first week of May.

On May 10, Teddy was rushed to vets with bleeding, and Chris suspects he may have been poisoned by weed killer.

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Chris and Sue Jones with their dog Teddy. Picture: Stuart Martin (220421-7042)

The 51-year old company director said: ‘When we took him to the vets, I was in pieces. I don’t want to lose my dog as he’s such a loved part of our family.’

Fareham Borough Council has investigated its use of weed killer, which contains the widely-used chemical glysophate, and found that it was likely not to be at fault for the dogs’ sickness.

But Chris is now calling on the council to further review its use of the weed killer - and to notify dog owners when they are using it.

The dad of two said: ‘It is dangerous as they are just spraying and you don’t know when they are doing it as you can’t see it until a few days later.

Areas in Stubbington where Chris Jones had walked his dog Teddy

‘We would like the council to review their use of this substance, or at the very least they should notify people if they are going to use it so we can avoid that area.’

A Facebook group called ‘Suddenly Sick Dogs Gosport and Fareham Areas’ has been set up where other pet owners are sharing their stories.

One pet owner, Helen Rose Mayhead-Griffiths, posted: ‘My dog was ill and in the vets for two days around the same time. To start with his face swelled up then he stopped eating and drinking and was being sick with the runs.

‘We were left with a £1,400 bill. He is now OK thank god but I certainly don't want to go through this again. The council needs to review its policy on spraying or at least put signs up about it.'

Areas in Stubbington where Chris Jones had walked his dog Teddy

However, Fareham Borough Council's leader Sean Woodward moved to reassure residents that it had investigated, but that it did not believe its weedkiller was the route of the problem.

He said: ‘It has been extremely upsetting for everyone at the council to hear that our herbicide use is suspected to be causing family pets harm.

‘This is something we take very seriously and we have investigated these claims extensively.

‘I would like to reassure dog owners that the herbicides used by the council to control weeds are rigorously tested and regulated.’

Cllr Woodward said the product the council uses containing glyphosate had been used ‘for many years’.

Areas in Stubbington where Chris Jones had walked his dog Teddy

He added: ‘The solution is non-irritant, far less potent than weed-killers used in domestic homes and, once dried onto plants, becomes untraceable.

‘According to an independent veterinary group, an animal would have to ingest a large quantity of domestic weed killer in its liquid form to become unwell.’

The Chemical Regulation Division has ‘deemed the product safe’ and the council’s suppliers have said there are no recalls on the product, he said.

Cllr Woodward warned ‘bacteria in waterways and standing water such as puddles’ can make animals unwell.

He added: ‘We will continue to monitor this situation with the greatest care and continue to investigate what could possibly be making beloved pets ill.’

The issue has been raised and investigated by several other councils across the UK this year, such as Tendring Council, South Tyneside Council and Southend Council, who also stand by the use of the chemical, saying it is safe to use.

Glysophate – the most widely-used herbicide in the world – is authorised for use in the EU until December 2022.

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Areas in Stubbington where Chris Jones had walked his dog Teddy
Teddy who became ill following a walk in Stubbington. Picture: Stuart Martin (220421-7042)
Pablo who became sick aftera walk in Stubbington