By Alex Matthews
A popular park has been closed after three dogs who had walked there died and numerous others became ill.
Vets suspect the dogs have been poisoned at Poppy Wood park, near Derby in the last fortnight and so volunteers have now closed the gates.
The Forestry Commission has begun looking into the issue but regular dog walkers fear someone has been poisoning them.
Other theories include the stream being contaminated or that something has grown on the land.
Karen Dean’s dog Dakota died on Sunday morning after walking in the park on Saturday.
She wrote: “RIP Dakota. A few hours after her lovely walk around Poppy Wood she became unwell and passed away this morning.
“The Vet believes she ate something poisonous. I don’t know if it was there or something thrown into our garden.
“She had a lovely play with some dog friends and I am heartbroken she has gone.
“I was wondering if anybody else’s dog has become unwell from a visit there recently?”
Her comments led to a flood of concerned walkers taking to social media to offer condolences and ask for advice.
Hannah Nicklin commented: “We there not last Friday but the one before and our Lola had a seizure (first ever one) the next day. Might be pure coincidence but the vet said it could of been something she eaten!”
Rachel Mallett, an RSPCA spokesperson who walks her dogs regularly at Poppy Wood, said: “My two dogs have both been ill after we went for a walk.
“My Westy Harry was physically sick and my greyhound-saluki cross William has had an off stomach.
“We can only speculate on the cause at the moment but it’s possible it’s the stream that runs through the middle of the park.
“My dogs will always play in it and drink from it, as do many others. They seemed to get sick after drinking from it.
“When I saw other people posting about it, I thought that might be the cause.
“Of course, if it’s something deliberate then that would be completely shocking.
“But I could not say for definite if it’s on purpose.”
Park volunteers took the decision to close the park in an attempt to keep dogs safe and discourage walkers from using the area.
In a statement posted on social media, they said: “It has now come to light that three dogs have lost their lives at Poppy Wood over the past few days.
“These dogs seem to have been poisoned.
“If we do have someone out their poisoning our pets the best form of defence will be the public. Keep watching and reporting any suspicious behaviour to the police.
“The volunteers had decided to withdraw from opening the carpark for the foreseeable future.
“The volunteers are unwilling to give you the impression the site is safe if it is not.
“All the volunteers are dog owners and are also concerned about the welfare of their own dogs and under the present circumstances we can give no assurances of the park is a safe environment for your dog.
“We will be working with the Forestry Commission closely to resolve this issue but please be very aware of what your dog is eating on site if you decide to visit.
“We might be looking for volunteers to search the site for any traces of poison. If you are able to give up any time this coming week please keep watching and we will ask you if the opportunity arises.”
The volunteers are also advising people to take their pets to a vet at the first sign of illness, or if they eat anything in the park.
The RSCPA and Derbyshire Police said they had not received any calls about the incidents.