HOLLANDS WOOD CAMPSITE, BROCKENHURST ENGLAND - 2 MASTIFF DOGS ATTACKED AND CHASED A SHETLAND PONY "POPPY" SO FAR FROM THE CAMPSITE SHE WAS NOT FOUND UNTIL THE NEXT DAY AND WOUNDS TO HER HEAD AND MOUTH WERE SO SEVERE SHE HAD TO BE PUT DOWN
COURAGEOUS campers at one of Hampshire’s biggest sites risked serious injury to try to save a pony that was being savaged by two dogs.
Holidaymakers staying at Hollands Wood, near Brockenhurst, were joined by campsite staff as they battled in vain to protect the terrified animal.
One of the MASTIFFS suffered a broken nose after being kicked by another pony that also tried to drive off the dogs.
Following the initial attack the badly-injured animal – Poppy – was chased so far from the campsite she was not found until the next day.
Having endured a night of agony Poppy had to be humanely destroyed because her wounds to her head and mouth were so severe.
Details of the campers’ desperate struggle to save her emerged after the dogs’ owner was prosecuted and fined £1,000 by Southampton magistrates.
The outcome of the case was revealed at the monthly Court of Verderers in Lyndhurst.
The Official Verderer, Dominic May, pictured top right, said: “Two mastiff dogs owned by a visitor to Hollands Wood campsite chased and viciously attacked a Shetland pony.
“The pony was chased so far from the campsite that she was not found until the next day.
“At first it was hoped she could be saved but due to the severity of the injuries inflicted by the dogs a vet recommended that she should be destroyed.”
Mr May praised campsite staff, Forestry Commission keeper Jonathan Cook and the police for their role in securing the subsequent prosecution. He added: “We also thank the campers and staff at Hollands Wood for their brave efforts in trying to drive off the dogs. In doing so they undoubtedly risked being seriously injured themselves.
“One of the dogs suffered a broken nose as a result of being kicked during the incident.
“This successful prosecution sends a clear message to all dog owners that they must keep their animals under close control at all times when in the New Forest.”
The incident happened at the 600-pitch campsite earlier this year.
The dogs were owned by Thomas Allen, 21, of Granville Avenue, Slough, who was prosecuted in connection with the incident but did not attend the hearing at Southampton Magistrates’ Court.
As well as being fined £1,000 he was ordered to pay £884 compensation to the pony’s owner, plus £250 costs.
His conviction was welcomed by the Commoners’ Defence Association (CDA), which represents pony owners in the Forest.
Commoners’ Defence Association chairman Graham Ferris, pictured top left, said: “The appalling injuries inflicted on the pony by the dogs were extremely distressing to the owner, who had been given the animal as a present.
“We would like to thank the people who tried to drive the dogs off.”
The English Mastiff, which is commonly referred to simply as the Mastiff, is a very old breed of dog that originates in England. Mastiffs were used for bear- and bull-baiting, and by British soldiers in war as early as 55 B.C. The Romans were so impressed by the aggression of the English mastiffs that they considered them superior to their own Roman war dogs. Grattius wrote of them in 8 AD: “ Although the British dogs are distinguished neither by colour nor good anatomy, I could not find any particular faults with them. When grim work must be done, when special pluck is needed when Mars summons us to battle most extreme, then the powerful Molossus will please you less and the Athamanen dog cannot measure up to the skill of the British dog either. ”1
The Romans returned home with this English version of the ‘molosser’, which they fought in Roman arenas against gladiators, lions, bulls, bears, and later other dogs. In England they were also used as guard dogs. There is evidence that Mastiffs came to the United States on the Mayflower, but the first actual documentation was not until the 19th century. The English Mastiff is a contributor to many other breeds of ‘molosser’ type dogs. After bull baiting was banned in 1835, Mastiffs diminished in popularity. Some were bred down to the size of what we now know as the bulldog types, often mixed with terrier and used in dogfighting when that replaced bear-baiting as a blood sport. Today English Mastiffs are mostly used as guard dogs or companion animals.
Fans of the present day Mastiff claim it is a “gentle giant”, calm and even tempered. They are said to love their families and enjoy companionship. Mastiffs are known for their constant drooling and snoring. Mastiff’s are still natural guard dogs and will strive to protect their family and territory. Due to their guarding instincts they may not do well with strangers. It is advised to engage in slow and careful introductions to unfamiliar guests. A generally friendly Mastiff may surprise owners when they sense danger and display aggression. They can do well with children, but due to their size and breed history, extreme caution should be taken.
Training should be started early and owners need to be perseverant, confident, consistent and fair. Firm yet gentle training is recommended. Early socialization is strongly advised to deter unwanted behaviors. Despite socialization, Mastiffs still may have behavior issues or displays of aggression.