Dog owners are being told to keep their pets on a tight rein after a deer was fatally wounded during an attack in Richmond Park on 1 October.
The owner of the dog responsible has been convicted of causing / permitting an animal they were in charge of to injure another animal in a Royal Park.
Franck Hiribarne, 44, from Kingston, appeared at Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court on Friday, 15 January where he pleaded guilty to the charge and was handed a total fine of £602.
Footage of the incident was captured by a passing cyclist, who was one of several people who intervened in an attempt to form a human shield around the injured deer.
The images show the Red Setter, Alfie, rushing up to the sitting deer and appearing to bite it. Witnesses described the dog as “relentless” as it was attacking and biting the deer from behind, dragging her backwards, jumping up, running and lunging at her.
Shortly afterwards, the deer was found collapsed in the ferns and had to put down by a game keeper due to its significant injuries; a broken front leg, an open wound to its behind and part of its tail was detached with an open wound.
Police Sergeant Pete Sturgess, from the Met’s Royal Parks Command Unit, said:
“This incident highlights that even the most careful of dog owners may not see a deer until it is too late. Your dog may never have chased the deer before, but once is too many, and this deer paid with her life.
“If you do not know how your dog will react around the deer, or you know they will chase them, then please respect the wildlife by keeping them under control on a lead, or choose an outside space other than Richmond or Bushy Parks to walk off lead.”
The Met has released the footage of Mr Hiribarne’s dog attacking the deer and members of the public trying to shield it, in order to alert the public to the dangers that dogs can pose to deer in the Royal Parks. Below is the video of the incident, which some viewers may find distressing.
‘Genuinely shocked and sorry’ – Hiribarne
Mr Hiribarne said of the incident:
“All of a sudden, I and Alfie came across a lone small deer sitting hidden in the long grass in an open area about 150 metres away from the road and both the deer and Alfie were startled by each other. The deer sprang up and started to run and Alfie got spooked and ran after the deer. I called Alfie back repeatedly and used my dog whistle too but Alfie was too distracted by the deer and continued to chase it and did not respond.
“I ran after them and by the time I caught up with them I saw the injured deer by the road side and some members of the public standing surrounding the deer keeping Alfie away from it who was hyper excited, barking and trying to lunge at it.
“I was genuinely shocked and sorry for what had happened and since then I have refrained completely from letting Alfie off leash in any park. I have also taken a special dog trainer specialised in gun dogs to control more accurately any of his hunting instincts. He has made great progress.”
Images above: Simon Richards, a deer in Richmond Park
‘Significant increase’ in dog attacks during pandemic
Figures collated for the first time on dog versus deer incidents by the Royal Parks, the charity that looks after London’s eight Royal Parks, indicates that the problem has significantly increased since the Covid-19 imposed lockdowns; it has led to a big increase in dog owners going to Bushy and Richmond – especially new users who might not be as familiar with best conduct.
Simon Richards, Park Manager for Richmond Park, said:
“Sadly, this was the fourth deer that died over the last year as a result of dog chases in Bushy and Richmond Parks. We’ve had 58 incidents of dogs chasing deer reported to us since March 2020, and it’s completely unacceptable. It’s imperative that owners ensure their dogs are under control at all times.
“It’s illegal for a dog to chase deer in Richmond and Bushy Parks, and owners may face prosecution if caught. If you witness a dog chasing a deer, please phone the on-call police officers for Richmond and Bushy Parks via 07920 586546.”
On 30 December 2020, also at Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court, David Reay, 69, from Kingston, pleaded guilty to allowing his dog to attack and kill a fallow deer in Richmond Park on 12 September 2020. He was fined £135 and ordered to pay £350 compensation to Richmond Park as well as £34 victim surcharge costs and £85 costs to to the Crown Prosecution Service.
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