Pet dog dies amid garden concerns

Emma Sheppard with her daughters Elisha aged 11 and Bethany aged 14 and their dog Jess
Emma Sheppard with her daughters Elisha aged 11 and Bethany aged 14 and their dog Jess

A beloved family dog at the centre of safety concerns has died from cancer.

Labrador Jess was put to sleep four months after the Sheppard family’s Yorkshire Terrier died of lymphoma.

The family fears both conditions were caused by the dogs eating grass in the back garden of their Alder Lane home in Thornton, built on the former Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) site.

Dad Paul, 38, said the hard decision to end Jess’ suffering was made on Sunday when her condition deteriorated.

He added: “The vet said she had developed another growth in her stomach and she had lesions on her face under her fur.

“She was clearly in a lot of pain so we thought for her, we were just going to have to be kind. She was in a poorly state and it was not fair to her.”

The heartbroken family remains at loggerheads with Wyre Council over land at the Hawley Gardens Development, which was professionally remediated to ensure the soil was safe.

Mum-of-two Emma Sheppard said she fears there are still deadly chemicals lurking in the garden: “I overheard somebody talking about how her animal had died on the same site, although I didn’t think anything of it at the time.”

Paul and Emma moved into the house with their two children in June 2014. In a letter to her landlord she said they ‘soon became aware’ of a problem with the garden because grass was not growing properly.
 She said Alfie, 12, was put down in October last year after developing lumps in his throat. Although she originally put his illness down to his age, despite having no previous health problems, she is now convinced there is a problem with the garden.

Documents filed with Wyre Council during the planning process for the site confirm carcinogenic chemicals were found during tests at the site before it was developed.

However conditions were attached to the planning permission to ensure the land was made safe before building work began.

Her landlord, who has put the family’s complaint on hold until the council has dealt with the issue and who bought the land from the developers, has provided details of the purchase and guarantees it received to the council, it is understood.

A spokeswoman for Wyre Council said: “The council can confirm that an enquiry has been received in relation to the land recently developed and known as the Hawley Gardens Development.