Pet owner criticised after dog chases 20 swans at city beauty spot

·2-min read
A dog chasing a swan at Riverside Park. Photos captured by Steve Clifft.
A dog chasing a swan at Riverside Park. Photos captured by Steve Clifft.

A DOG has been pictured chasing swans at a Southampton beauty spot - sparking concerns over the safety of birds.

Photographer Steve Clifft was visiting Riverside Park on Saturday to capture some images of wildlife.

At around 8.30am, he witnessed a black dog "scamper down the riverbank" and chase around 20 swans.

The dog separated one of the birds from the group and continued to chase it.

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Concerns have been raised over the safety of the bird, with the owner branded "irresponsible" by a bird welfare organisation.

Steve said: "I believe dogs should be kept on leads only when there is a presence of danger to animals or birds.

"I understand dogs do need a run but it should be in appropriate locations."

Denise Theophilus, from the Foundation for Feathered Friends, said she is "absolutely appalled" at the "irresponsible attitude of the dogs' owner".

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She believes the owner should have put a lead on their dog "as soon as they saw the swans".

"It is very important never to lure any waterbird onto the shore by feeding them on the land," she said.

"People should always ensure they throw swan, duck or even poultry pellets, and never bread, into the water.

"It's also important not to get too friendly so that they will retain their wildness and stay aloof."

Southampton City Council, which manages the park, said that it welcomes "hundreds of dogs and dog walkers to our award-winning, city centre parks every day".

However, dog owners are expected to "take responsibility for their dogs by keeping them under close control".

This includes not letting dogs chase or disturb any wildlife, including swans.

A spokesperson said: "Irresponsible actions from a few dog owners can have a significant impact on wildlife such as disrupting nesting and causing the abandonment of chicks.

"Such attacks can also cause death to adult birds due to the high levels of stress they cause.

"We ask all dog owners to please follow our Dog Code and keep animals under control at all times.

"If dog owners or members of the public wish to report complaints about animal welfare or a lost dog, they can contact our Animal Welfare Service on 023 8083 3005."

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