Owner of dog that killed swan near Norwich is let off

The owner of a dog who mauled a swan at Whitlingham Country Park will not be charged for causing the bird's death after police decided the 'unfortunate attack' was not his fault.

The RSPCA and police launched an investigation after a cygnet was left for dead following an attack by unleashed dogs at the popular nature area on Sunday December 19.

Witnesses to the incident, which resulted in the young swan having to be put to sleep by a vet after the RSPCA rescued it, said they saw the owner of two greyounds and a doberman in the park around 11am before the dogs 'tore apart' the helpless animal.

Inspector James Brown of Poringland Safer Neighbourhood Team revealed that a mistakenly fitted muzzle was largely to blame for the incident, saying: 'A local male has been interviewed under caution about the incident.

'At this time, there is no evidence available to suggest that this attack was deliberate. It appears from our enquiries that the dog owner had taken reasonable steps to try and prevent it happening by keeping his dogs 200 yards from the swans and having muzzles fitted to the dogs.

'Unfortunately it appears that the owner mistakenly placed the wrong muzzle on the wrong dog, allowing one of the dogs to slip free and run towards the birds.

'Due to the weather conditions at the time, with the lake being frozen, the dog was then able to gain access to the cygnet.

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'Under the current legislation available, we are unable to prove any offence has been committed, although we fully appreciate the distress that this incident caused to both the surrounding wildlife and the people who witnessed it.'

People who are found to have allowed their dogs to be dangerously out of control in a public place or attack other animals can face up to six months in prison.

However the owner of the dogs has been cleared of any guilt in this instance, as Inspector Brown added: 'The dog owner has stated to police that he deeply regrets the incident and has been given words of advice and guidance about his future control of the dogs.

'I would like to take this opportunity to remind dog owners that they need to take all reasonable steps to ensure that their dogs are kept under control in public, especially in locations where there are large amounts of wildlife.'

Do you have a story for the Evening News? Contact reporter David Freezer on 01603 772418 or on email at david.freezer@archant.co.uk.