Dog disease was Alabama Rot - and now there’s a new threat to forest dog walkers
A disease which claimed the life of one dog and put five more in intensive care was Alabama Rot.
Vets who carried out a post-mortem on Pippa, a cocker spaniel owned by Jessica Worthington from Swindon, have confirmed the dog did have the disease.
Experts from Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists near Winchester, which has been monitoring five dogs from Wiltshire showing symptoms of Alabama Rot, confirmed the news on their Facebook page.
“Alabama Rot update: Sadly, over the past month three further dogs have been confirmed with cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (Marlborough, Wiltshire; Darlington, County Durham; Salisbury, Wiltshire,” they wrote.
Ms Worthington, a veterinary nurse, has started a campaign to raise £10,000 to fund research into Alabama Rot in memory of Pippa.
“This disease has left a huge hole in my heart. I want to help fund research into this disease to make a difference to dogs that may be affected in the future,” she said.
The campaign total stands at £8,230 and closes in 44 days. It can be found at https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/jessica-worthington
Back in December, Marlborough News Online reported how a number of dogs had contracted an illness with symptoms matching those of Alabama Rot after visiting West Woods near Marlborough.
The first symptoms are lesions - usually on the lower leg and foot. The disease can then affect the kidneys - and may prove fatal.
However, the cause of the disease remains unknown. It does not appear to be passed from one dog to another.
Vets were unable to confirm an outbreak of Alabama Rot until a post mortem had been carried out on a dog suspected of having the disease.
Meanwhile, a fresh threat is being posed to dog walkers on the other side of town.
Visitors to Savernake Forest have been alarmed to find signs warning that snares have been placed around the area.
The sign - which carries the branding of the National Anti Snaring Campaign - reads: “Warning, snares in Savernake Forest.
“Please be aware that snares have been set in this forest which pose a danger to pets.
“Dogs have already fallen victim, and we are asking you to assist us by reporting any sightings.
“So far most snares have been placed on fence lines. Snares are a wire noose mainly designed to catch foxes, but are cruel and indiscriminate.”
Snares – which are used to protect game birds from foxes - are not illegal, although their use is controlled under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.
Gamekeepers must be able to check traps every 24 hours, so tethering a snare to something that can be dragged by an animal - such as a log - is illegal.
Marlborough News Online has approached the National Anti Snaring Campaign to substantiate the claim that “dogs have already fallen victim,” but the pressure group has not responded after a week.
MNO is not aware of any recent incidents of pet dogs being caught in snares in the Savernake Forest.
A spokesman for the Forestry Commission, which manages the forest, told us: “The Forestry Commission does not allow snares to be used by our own staff. We prohibit their use on land we own or we manage where we have control.
“At Savernake Forest we lease the land from Savernake Estate who retain the sporting rights.”