A mother and her nine-year-old son watched helplessly as a pack of hounds chased their pet terrier around a lake in Petworth Park on Sunday.
Mya, a three-year-old Lakeland terrier, fled in terror as mink hounds from the Wealden pack, on exercise in the park, pursued her until in panic she leapt into the water and made for a nearby island.
After the hounds had been called off, it took Linda Wickenden and her autistic son, Kian, more than an hour to coax the petrified pet to swim back from her hiding place.
Miss Wickenden, who lives in Petworth, said on Monday: “My son and I were distraught.
“Kian has Asperger’s syndrome and he does not have many friends. That dog is his companion and his life.”
The pair were walking around the lake on the A272 side of the park at about 11.15am when Miss Wickenden said they encountered the ‘hunting pack’ all roaming freely.
The Wealden mink hounds are kennelled at Petworth Park under an arrangement with the Chiddingfold, Leconfield and Cowdray Fox Hunt.
Nick Bamber, chairman of the CLC, said two Welsh mink hounds had recently been drafted into the Wealden pack.
They had been ‘coupled’ by a lead to more experienced hounds during exercise but on Sunday they were free for the first time.
“They got excited and started to hunt the terrier,” Mr Bamber said. “We apologise to the lady and her son for the upsetting incident. The hounds in question are being moved on to a Welsh pack.”
For the full story, see this week’s Midhurst and Petworth Observer out today (Thursday, February 23).