St Albans dog-owners warned to be on guard for farmers’ gunshots

Mia and Sofia Symmons with Jackson the cockerpoo

Mia and Sofia Symmons with Jackson the cockerpoo - Credit: Archant

A MISSING dog has been found safe and well nearly 24 hours after he bolted from Heartwood Forest and wandered more than 10 miles after being frightened by gunshots.

The dog’s grateful owners are relieved their pooch was found relatively unscathed but his ordeal has prompted a warning to others to be aware their pets might also be scared by loud, sudden noises from farms.

Jackson, a four year old cockapoo – a cross between a cocker spaniel and a poodle – was being taken for a walk by a dog-walker around Heartwood Forest, Sandridge, at 9.30am last Tuesday, March 19, when guns were fired from a farm, possibly some distance away.

His owners David and Kerry Symmons, who live in St Albans, explained that the sudden loud noises scared Jackson who immediately bolted from the grip of the dog-walker, jumped a fence and ran away.

Kerry said that she and others spent the day retracing steps and alerting other dog owners, who immediately joined the search.


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A mechanic and stablehand told her they had seen Jackson on the edge of Sandridgebury at about 10.30am, but were unable to catch him.

Kerry said: “Everyone got involved, and after my husband put posters up I was told someone had seen him at Smallford, near Hatfield, at about 9pm.

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“He must have gone over the Jersey Farm fields, so we were out till midnight trying to spot him. I rang the police, the council, RSPCA, and the Blue Cross.”

After a sleepless night there was good news for the Symmons family last Wednesday.

Kerry explained: “A lady in Sandridge was getting in her car to go to work when she saw him curled up in a ball on her driveway.

“He obviously thought he couldn’t run any more and was tired out. She called a veterinary nurse at Village Vet Cayton [Hatfield Road], took him there and they called me after they checked his microchip details.”

Amazingly, despite his ordeal, Jackson escaped with just a sore left front paw and leg.

A happy Kerry said: “It was such a relief as we were so frantic. It’s not something that usually happens, and I would like to thank all those who helped. They have been amazing.”

Louise Neicho, Woodland Trust site manager said she was pleased that Jackson had been safely found.

She added: “Heartwood Forest is located in the countryside in the vicinity of a number of farms, so loud noises from both gunfire and bird scarers can be commonplace all year round.

“I would ask dog owners to please bear this in mind when visiting the site.”

Louise urged those walking dogs through the forest to be aware of the Countryside Code and make sure pets were kept under control at all times.

A neighbouring farmer, who did not wish to be named, said the loud noises were unlikely to have come from farms bordering the site and that the sound had probably carried from agricultural sites outside the district.

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