Video released of dog attacking deer after man appears in court

By The Editor

18th Jan 2021 | Local News

Footage of a dog attacking a deer in Richmond Park has been released in a bid to raise awareness and deter future incidents.

The owner of the dog, a Red Setter, has appeared in court where he was handed a fine.

The Royal Parks charity praised the "brave cyclists who acted as human shields to protect the deer from further attack from the dog. Despite their heroic efforts, the hind collapsed with extensive injuries and sadly had to be put down."

Franck Hiribarne, 44, from Kingston, appeared at Wimbledon Magistrates' Court on Friday, January 15.

He admitted a charge of causing/permitting an animal they were in charge of to injure another animal in a Royal Park and was fined a total of £602.

Hiribarne told police he only let his dog Alfie run free in areas of Richmond Park he assessed as being clear of deer, but during his walk, he and his dog stumbled across a lone deer sitting in long grass.

"All of a sudden, Alfie and I 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," he said of the tragic incident which happened on October 1 at 9am.

"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."

Witnesses recall attack

You can watch a video of the incident at the top of this story – please be aware it contains scenes that people may find distressing.

The images show Alfie rushing up to the hind (female deer) and appear to bite it, before retreating slightly and barking repeatedly in an aggressive manner as the eye-witnesses who have rushed to the scene form a human barrier between the two animals.

These witnesses described the dog as "relentless", attacking and biting the deer from behind, dragging her backwards, jumping up, and lunging at her, and continuously running around her attempting to get her.

The footage shows the deer then gets up and limps off slowly in a bid to get away from the threat it faces, but it is already suffering a broken leg after being hit by a car during the time it was chased by the dog.

Sadly, the deer was found shortly afterwards 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 also detached with an open wound.

Meanwhile, the witness obtained details from the dog's owner and flagged down a passing police car, while the owner of Alfie, who had rushed to catch up with his dog and get him back under control also went to the Royal Parks' office to inform them of the incident.

Police statement

Sergeant Pete Sturgess of 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."

Figures are being collated for the first time on dog versus deer incidents by the Royal Parks charity which looks after London's eight Royal Parks. Police said they indicate that the problem has significantly increased since the Covid-19 imposed lockdowns.

There has been a big increase in dog owners going to Bushy and Richmond - especially new users who might not be as familiar with best conduct around the deer.

Richmond Park manager Simon Richards 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."

Last month also at Wimbledon Magistrates' Court, David Reay, 69, from Kingston, was fined after allowing his dog to attack and kill a fallow deer in Richmond Park on September 12.


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