Dog attack on cat in Sidmouth prompts warning about owners training pets

Janice Paul at home in her garden with Harry the cat. Ref shs 29 17TI 7549. Picture: Antonia Bohm

Janice Paul at home in her garden with Harry the cat. Ref shs 29 17TI 7549. Picture: Antonia Bohm - Credit: Archant

The owners of a family cat that was attacked by a dog in their own back garden have called for untrained canines to be kept on the lead.

Pensioners Janice and Stephen Paul, of Sid Lane, Sidmouth, were on their property, which backs onto The Byes, when a dog spotted one-eyed tabby Harry, 14.

Despite shouts from its owner from the other side of the River Sid, which separates the garden and the Sidmouth beauty spot, the dog made a beeline for the cat and pinned him down before putting his jaws around his body.

The feline was left with a damaged paw and one of his claws was ripped out. Luckily, there were no puncture wounds. Janice and Stephen, however, were left with almost £100 in vet’s bills to pay.

Janice said the dog’s owner was very apologetic and seemed genuinely concerned. She added: “The dog didn’t take a blind bit of notice of her owner’s shouting and continued to attack the cat quite badly. I just thought the dog was going to kill him. I honestly thought we had lost the cat at that stage, but thank goodness I was wrong. My husband managed to finally get the dog off the cat.”

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Janice said the couple had been getting increasingly annoyed about the number of dogs crossing the river into their garden and then ignoring their owners’ calls.

“I don’t want people to stop walking their dogs off leads in The Byes, but owners need to be able to control their dogs and call them back. It is about making owners understand their responsibility, not confining the dogs. I don’t want everyone to be punished because of the minority.”

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Peter Martin, of Jurassic Vets, said: “We are really lucky to have The Byes so owners can let their dogs play and exercise, keeping them happy and healthy, but the law says even a dog on the lead must be under control, meaning if you let them off the lead and call your dog back from chasing a cat it will obey you. Dogs have a natural instinct to chase cats. It is really important owners teach their dogs the recall command.

“It is a hard command to teach especially when dogs get excited and tend to stop listening but owners must keep at it.

“Harry was lucky to get away with light injuries, but other cats may not be so lucky.”

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