A DOG on a clifftop walk chased and fatally wounded a deer at Barton while the pet’s owners made no effort to stop the horrific attack.
Members of the public rushed to help when they saw the small muntjac being set upon by what was described as a brown labradoodle that was being walked off its lead on the clifftop off Marine Drive West last Thursday afternoon.
The distressed animal suffered a devastating wound to its back leg and injured itself further as it tried to get away from those helping it.
Responding to a call-out around 2.40pm, an RSPCA officer deemed it could not be saved and it was shot at the scene.
One of those who rushed to help, a local resident who wished to remain anonymous, told the A&T he saw what he thought was a labradoodle chase the deer from the clifftop, near the Cliff House Hotel, across the road and into a next door front garden.
“I saw them on the drive – the deer was obviously badly injured as its back leg was all ripped open,” he said.
“I shooed the dog out of the drive and it ran back out to the clifftop, back to its owner.”
At this point, the resident said, the wounded deer also ran out of the drive and onto the road, and Lauren Bische, a waitress at the hotel, came out to help him and his daughter catch it.
Having borrowed a length of rope from a builder working on a nearby property, they made several failed attempts to catch the deer, during which time it kept running into walls and doors.
They eventually managed to corner the animal in the back garden of an unoccupied bungalow on Cliff Road.
By then, Lauren’s sister, Megan Sale, who is office manager at the hotel, had joined them and blankets and towels were used to try to make the animal comfortable as they held it down.
“We put a blanket over its head to calm it down,” the resident said. “We held the deer down for about an hour and a half until the RSPCA arrived.
“It was struggling all the time – it would go still for a bit and then would start struggling again. It was very strong and all the time it was screaming.”
Praising the efforts of the RSPCA officer at the scene, he vented his anger at the woman – thought to have been in her 60s – who had been walking the dog.
“The worst thing was this bloody dog owner who just watched her dog – she must have seen her dog attack the deer but she just walked off,” he continued.
“She didn’t stop to see if she could help and just got on with her walk. She clearly knew because she saw the dog go across the road.
“I just think it was completely irresponsible, first to have the dog out of control and second not to care about the damage it caused to this poor deer. It was just really sad.”
Recalling the incident to the A&T, Lauren, who also lives at the hotel, said she first spotted the deer running across the clifftop while sitting in the garden. Struck by how unusual it was to see one during the day, she took a video and photos of it on her phone.
She was alerted that something was wrong when she walked into the hotel restaurant a few moments later and heard staff exclaiming shock at the events unfolding outside.
“I looked out of the window and didn’t think twice. I just ran out of the door to see if I could help,” Lauren said.
“I had first seen the dog running towards the deer, which was minding its own business. Then me and this guy were trying to stop the traffic because the dog was in the road and the deer was in the road.”
Having eventually contained the deer in the nearby garden, Lauren said they tried to cover its wounds as best they could with the towels and blankets.
However, it had suffered further injuries from running into obstacles such as patio doors, trees and walls in its panicked state and was very distressed.
“We had sat there waiting for two-and-a-half hours for the RSPCA to turn up, with this very upset, distressed and broken deer,” she continued.
“It was horrible. I haven’t stopped thinking about it. It was awful.”
Referring to the dog owner’s behaviour, Lauren argued she should have checked to see if her pet had attacked the deer. She believed the dog would have had the animal’s blood on it.
Also, having been told by the RSPCA officer that the deer was covered in tics, she suggested some could have transferred onto the offending dog.
Lauren’s sister Megan told how she had been left feeling very disturbed and shaken up in the days following the incident.
“I was very emotionally unstable afterwards,” she said.
“After seeing the deer put down I was in a bad way – I was glad my sister didn’t see it put down as she had gone back to the hotel by then. It was very upsetting.”
Megan had called the police on the non-emergency 101 number, and an officer arrived at the scene following the incident. She said the officer had seemed more concerned about the dog owner’s conduct.
A spokesperson for the RSPCA said: “This was a very sad incident involving a muntjac deer with a severed leg and broken jaw which we believe was a result of a dog attack.
“We are asking dog owners to act responsibly to ensure sad incidents such as this are prevented,” the spokesperson continued.
“We want to reiterate to dog owners that there is a very simple way to stop these attacks – please keep your dog on a lead around livestock and wildlife.”