July 22 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
A dog owner is pushing for husky training to be kept on a tighter leash in Thetford Forest after he was subjected to two “terrifying” attacks in the last year.
Terry Cantwell, 68, was attacked in February and September of last year as he walked his five-year-old cocker spaniel, Dusty, in Thetford Forest near his home town of Brandon.
He described the attacks as “horrific” and is now seeking legal action to have the husky training area moved away from residential areas.
The last attack, on September 18, took place just after 7.30am.
“I was walking along a tarmac path alongside the forest with the dog on a lead. When I heard the huskies coming, we stepped into the woodland more to give them a wide berth,” he said.
“But they veered off the dirt path and started charging towards us. The chap in the rig got thrown out as it overturned.
“The ground was slippery and I was trying to get away from them but they bore down on us and bit Dusty, pulling out his fur.
“If it wasn’t for the rig getting stuck on the path, I am certain they would have killed him.
“It was a terrifying situation and not one I’d like to repeat.”
The previous attack, on February 5 last year, saw a team of two female drivers lose control of a pack of four huskies which charged towards Mr Cantwell’s dog. One of the drivers regained control of the dogs before it could reach Mr Cantwell.
The Forestry Commission has put up signs near the training areas telling dog walkers to keep their pets under control while the husky teams pass.
According to the signs, huskies are allowed in the forest until 10.30am and after dark.
Caroline Kisko, from the Thetford Forest Husky Training Group, wrote to Mr Cantwell to apologise for the incident.
She said the driver in charge of the four dog team was sorry for the incident and was undergoing further training to ensure his team “will not chase loose dogs again”.
But Mr Cantwell said the huskies were “dangerous animals” and blamed the Forestry Commission for not having proper monitoring and controls in place.
No one from the Forestry Commission was available for comment.
Thetford Forest has been identified as a key site for husky racing, with the area hosting British Siberian Husky Racing Association events in recent years.
What do you think of huskies training in the forest? Have you seen any similar issues? Let us know by emailing reporter Andrew Fitchett on firstname.lastname@example.org