Dogs spreading killer tree diseases?

Dogs are naturally attracted to trees, it’s where most stud dogs like to do their business and cast their mark so that other dogs know they’ve been there. However it seems that trees in a park in Cardiff are at risk from dogs treading diseases that could be potentially fatal to the trees.

The disease is called ‘Sudden Oak Death’ (phytophthora ramorum) and is spread by dogs going from tree to tree with muddy paws. As a result, the park in Thornhilll, Cardiff, has placed a restriction on dog owners in the park. All dogs must now be kept on a lead and stick to the paths in a bid to stop the disease spreading from tree to tree.

The council is acting on advice from the UK government. The disease was first discovered in California, where sudden oak death made ten species of oak tree a rarity.

In the UK the disease has been discovered in Cornwall, Northern Ireland and now Cardiff. The disease causes the roots and the leaves to discolour, and then the tree dies.

A council spokesperson stated:

With initial treatments seemingly proving ineffective, the council has agreed after consultation with the other agencies involved such as the Countryside Council for Wales, Forestry Commission and Defra (Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), that stronger action needs to be taken in order to try and prevent the spread of the disease not only within the park, but to other areas.

Therefore with immediate effect all pets, particularly dogs must be kept on a lead at all times and not enter any of the ponds within the park.

Owners must also ensure that they and their pets keep to the provided pathways and not roam free within the park.

The council realises that this will cause some inconvenience to pet owners, but hopes that they will appreciate these measures have not been undertaken lightly and is on the specific instruction of Defra.

The restrictions on dog owners are just precautionary, and the dogs themselves are not at risk from any infection.