More signs needed to stop the rot that is killing dogs

NEW Forest bosses are reviewing how they warn dog-walkers about a killer disease that is claiming the lives of pets.

Sarah Thairs said she would have never have let three-and-a-half-year-old Tegan walk in a beauty spot had she known her beloved pet’s life was at risk.

The Patterdale fox terrier cross is feared to be the latest case of Alabama Rot – the condition linked to the deaths of 12 dogs in the New Forest since December, 2012 and 10 elsewhere in the country.

A further 10 deaths are also suspected to have been caused by the toxin in the New Forest.

Two months ago, the Forestry Commission put up signs in some of the areas where dogs had been exercised before being taken ill. The signs describe the symptoms and urge pet-owners to consult a vet immediately if their dog develops signs of the disease.

But Sarah, from North Baddesley, says she saw no warning signs.

After being contacted, the Forestry Commission said it was now reviewing how it communicates the problem of Alabama rot to dog-walkers.

Sarah, who runs a pet grooming business, said that she first noticed something was wrong when Tegan developed a knee joint problem.

Days later, lesions appeared on the same leg and soon after the animal began passing blood and became lethargic.

With Tegan’s condition worsening, Sarah had to make the decision to put her to sleep. She said: “I could tell that she had given up. I said I did not want her suffering.

“What breaks my heart was that she was so young. She really was in her prime.”

Sarah believes Tegan picked up the toxin in Deerleap, but she said she saw no signs warning of the risk.

“I would have never got out of the car if I had known there was a risk,” she added.

The Forestry Commission said it had listened to concerns of affected pet owners.

A spokesman said: “We have decided to review so we do not have to wait for specialist confirmation of the disease.

“We will talk urgently with vet specialists, local authorities, the New Forest National Park Authority and other partners to have a co-ordinated and consistent approach across everyone’s visitor sites in the New Forest area.

“The problem is not restricted to the Forest and so we will make this approach more widely known for others outside of the New Forest to help spread awareness of the issue.”

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