Mystery illness leaves dogs severely ill after woodland walks - but rat poison not to blame says Forestry Commission

A MYSTERY illness in Wickham that has left dogs severely ill is not rat poison, the Forestry Commission has said.

Monday, 27th January 2020, 3:09 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 9:29 pm
Dog walker: Jacob King/PA Wire

Posts on social media by concerned dog walkers in the Forest of Bere, between Wickham and Waterlooville, claimed dogs had nearly died after coming into contact with the poison.

One walker posted on Facebook: ‘The poisoning is rat poison which has been spread with food. Apparently the poison is very, very dangerous and can kill within 24 hours.’

The outbreak, which started last week, sparked fear and confusion from dog walkers who attend the popular beauty spot to walk their canines.

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Posters were put up at the West Walk location warning people of the dangers.

But Forestry England has intervened admitting it has concerns about social media posts ending up with ‘misleading’ information.

A spokesperson said: ‘Although there have been reports on social media of dogs becoming ill in the area, the cause of the illness remains unknown and has not been linked to poisoning.

‘We’d like to reassure people that we haven't put down poison or used chemicals in our forests.

‘We advise all dog owners to always keep their dogs under close control and be aware of anything they may pick up, chew or eat and if their dog becomes ill they should contact a vet as quickly as possible.’

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The forestry also told dog walkers to avoid taking matters into their own hands.

‘In order not to present misinformation, we urge people not to put up signs in the forest as signing some areas and not others implies that there are 'out of bounds' and 'safe' areas to walk dogs - which is misleading,’ the spokesperson said.

‘Given that hundreds of dogs are walked in the forest every day and it is important to remember that only a very small number of dogs have been affected by an illness, the forest generally remains a safe place to walk your dog.’