THE LEADER of a gardening project for children in Heage has blasted a careless dog owner after chickens were savaged.
Scout leader Ian Coope discovered one chicken badly mauled and another stripped of its feathers at the Grow Your Own project on allotment land in Park Side, on Wednesday afternoon.
One chicken has been put to sleep because its injuries were so severe, while the other is recovering from teeth marks in its neck. An eye-witness said the collie dog, which attacked the flock, was being walked by a woman.
Mr Coope, 51, said: “I don’t know what people are thinking – letting their animals do this. I don’t blame the dogs, it’s the owners I want to get my hands on. We run the project for the benefit of the children of the village and some mindless idiot lets this happen. It’s totally irresponsible. What if that had been a child? Would they have just walked off and left it?”
The gardening project was set up in 2009 with funding from the NHS and attracts around 80 youngsters, aged between six and 16, who grow their own produce. They currently keep bees and are involved with a land share scheme so people without access to their own land can grow vegetables.
Mr Coope also blames irresponsible dog walkers for large amounts of dog mess on the playing fields.
“Some dog walkers use the playing fields as a private latrine for their dogs. But children and families use the site and they should not have to dodge dog excrement. It’s not as though there aren’t enough walks and footpaths around the village.”
The group currently has 22 ex-battery hens from a rescue centre in Nottingham which they have nursed back to egg-laying health. Mr Coope said: “The chickens have had a rough eight months already. They don’t look like this when they first turn up - but if they don’t get rehomed they get sent to slaughter. We have only lost three in 18 months which isn’t bad and then this happens.”