Burgh Castle donkeys face dog terror

TERRIFIED donkeys have again been the victims of a vicious attack by a loose dog at one of the borough’s most magnificent beauty spots.

Monday’s incident – the second since November – has prompted their owner to remind dog owners to keep their animals on a lead, especially as the milder weather approaches and more people are out and about with their pets at the Burgh Castle Roman fort.

Builder Trevor Austin said he feared for the safety of his four donkeys and believes the stress of the previous episode contributed to the death of one of his animals.

He said the usually calm donkeys could panic if startled, injuring themselves, or the dog that was worrying them.

And he warned that even the most placid pet had a natural instinct to chase if it saw the animals trotting around.

An eyewitness to Monday’s incident during which pregnant Charlie was hurt said an Alsatian “in a frenzy” was worrying the donkeys – while its distressed owner tried to call it back.

Mr Austin stressed that it was not just the obvious injuries – which have cost �400 in vets bills – but the unseen death through anxiety and the toll it had taken on the donkeys who were now too frightened to let even their owners near them.

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Adding to his anger and frustration was knowing how best to combat the problem, with the police saying it was a civil matter.

“People seem to be able to do this and are getting away with it.

“They do not come to look at the fort; they come to walk their dogs.

“A lot of dogs are dangerous, but people treat their pets like children, which they are not.” he said.

“We are really angry about this and really disappointed in the lack of help.

“It is such a simple problem to cure – just keep dogs on a lead like the signs ask you to.

“People are quite welcome to walk their dogs as long as they clean up after them and keep them on a lead.”

Mr Austin said he believed the new car park put in by the site’s owners Norfolk Archaeological Trust was drawing more dog walkers to the historic wildlife rich site which offers some of the best views in the county.

Trust director Dr Peter Wade-Martins said: “If they are coming from our side people have a responsibility to keep their dogs under control.

“And they need not come into the property if they cannot.”

The trust’s efforts to improve the visitor experience to the fort – one of the best preserved Roman monuments in Britain – will include interpretation panels at the car park. English Heritage will also be devising some for the fort.

Dr Wade-Martins hopes the panels and car park will have their official launch in April.