DEADLY dog attacks on swans are increasing because some owners do not keep their pets on a lead, says the leader of a charity that cares for injured birds.

Jan Harrigan, who founded the Wychbold Swan Rescue at Walk Mills Farm, Wychbold, near Droitwich, said there had been an increase in the number and severity of dog attacks on swans.

She said five swans suffered serious injuries in the region last year because of dogs, some of them in Worcester. Of those, three were so serious that the birds had to be put down. She said a risk area was the steps at the opposite side of the Severn to Worcester Cathedral where swans would gather.

“The swans are relaxing there and someone’s dog goes bombing up there and frightens them to death,” said Mrs Harrigan, who runs the charity for the care and treatment of sick and injured swans and water birds with support from vets.

“We’re getting a lot of problems with uncontrolled dogs. Everybody thinks their dog won’t do it. A dog is an animal and they have got to be under control. Wildlife in the area is getting a rough deal and some swans have had their wings torn off.”

Attacks were also increasing in other parts of the country said Mrs Harrigan, who attributed the incidents to a lack of understanding from owners.

She said: “The attacks have been more serious this year. They need to think about it a bit more.

“However, some people with dogs are extremely good. You see people who grab the dog and put it on a lead.”

She said that dogs off their leads could scatter swans, making it harder to retrieve injured animals for them to get the care they needed.

Mrs Harrigan also said swans were nesting at this time of year, which made them protective of their young, so it was also in the interests of dog-owners to keep their animals under control. She said: “There is some risk to the dogs.”

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