EVERYTHING possible was being done to warn dog walkers about toxic plants after one pet died having eaten water hemlock at Long Meadow, says a leading New Milton councillor.
Speaking at Monday’s meeting of the town council’s amenities committee, chairman Cllr Geoffrey Blunden said notices had been put up at the Barton beauty spot, where the fatal incident took place in August last year.
Water hemlock dropwort, which is the most poisonous plant in the UK, was allegedly left behind at the site by council maintenance workers.
Two other dogs also fell seriously ill after ingesting the plant around the same time, but they both survived.
Cllr Blunden pointed out Long Meadow was one of three town council-owned sites that have water running through them – the others being Ballard Water Meadow and Barton Common. The warning notices have been placed at all three.
As reported in the A&T, devastated Barton resident Janice Dennison made the heart-breaking decision to have her 11-year-old shelpie Kelsie put to sleep in December.
The pet’s health had drastically deteriorated four months on from first falling seriously ill after ingesting hemlock at Long Meadow.
Vets treating Kelsie had told Mrs Dennison the poison had badly affected her kidneys. She forked out hundreds of pounds on the emergency treatment and a course of pills but Kelsie’s condition deteriorated so much she did not think it right to continue.
The A&T also reported how Sally Keats’ dog Oakley nearly died after chomping on a hemlock root he had found on the ground when she took him for a walk at Long Meadow.
Her friend Pam Smith’s pet Pickle also fell ill after eating hemlock at the same time but had not ingested as much as Oakley.
The town council notices at the three beauty spots urge dog owners and walkers to “be vigilant”, saying the authority is aware of water hemlock dropwort growing in the area. Featuring a photograph of the plant, they advise particular caution in and around open waterways.
Asking people to keep their pets under close control, the notices state in large red lettering: “You must take responsibility for your dog.”
Cllr Blunden told the amenities meeting: “We’re doing all we can on this, on our sites.
“We’re limited with what we can do, but if we see it [hemlock] in open water courses we will remove it.
“We’re trying to get the message across that dog owners and dog walkers need to be vigilant of this and look out for their dogs.”
Committee members were shown an extensive list released by the Dogs Trust charity, detailing plants, as well as garden and household substances, which are poisonous to the pets.
Many of the hundreds of plants listed are common across the country, Cllr Blunden stressed. The web address for the list is included on the warning notices.
The list states that water hemlock causes “violent painful convulsions” and “can be fatal”.
As well as the hemlock, the beauty spot notices warn about Alabama Rot, a disease that has in the past killed a number of dogs walked in some areas of the New Forest.
Officially known as cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy, or CRGV, the condition can lead to kidney failure, which is often fatal.
The notices state: “Alabama Rot is usually contracted in woodland and muddy areas.
“There is no cure. Most dogs die within a week.
“You should check your dog thoroughly after walks and look out for sores and cuts on feet, legs, in the mouth, on the belly and between the toes.
“If you find anything take your dog to the vet immediately.”