UK: Blood trail from dog's paw sparks 17-hour police operation

By Anna Hammond
South Wales Echo

Meet Ernie, the 12-stone Rottweiler who sparked a major police investigation after cutting his paw on broken glass.

And pictured below is the moment his stunned owner Rebecca Hayes learnt the scale of the response to pools of blood left by her three-year-old pedigree at Hendre Lakes in St Mellons, Cardiff.

The 39-year-old said: 'It must have cost the police thousands.

'I can't believe we have caused all this.'

But the real culprits are the yobs who dumped a broken pint glass among piles of smashed bottles that caused Ernie to split an artery in his front paw, sending him into shock and leaving him minutes from death.

Hendre Lakes in St Mellons, Cardiff, was sealed off from 5pm on Monday until around 10am yesterday after a mysterious 54ft trail of blood, a Stanley knife and blood-soaked scarf were found in the car park.

As reported in yesterday's Echo, a full-scale inquiry was sparked with sniffer dogs, search teams, forensic scientists, crime scene photographers and a police helicopter called into action.

Just as divers were arriving at Hendre Lakes to search the water, Mrs Hayes arrived at the police cordon to explain that the blood came from her dog.

The former landlady of the Bluebell pub in St Mellons said: 'I took my son Jordan to school because he had missed his bus and I passed all these police cars on Willowdene Way.

'I got home and my son phoned to say there had been a murder up by the lakes and I just thought 'Oh no' and went straight down there to tell them what had happened.'

Detectives were treating the area, popular with walkers and anglers, as a potential crime scene, not knowing if they were dealing with a suicide attempt or serious assault, after a member of the public come across the blood hours after Ernie's paw had been ripped open.

He had been enjoying his daily walk with his owner, her sister Ceris Crothers and her collie dog Chelsea Francis when Ernie stumbled on the jagged glass.

The sisters desperately tried to stop the bleeding, using Rebecca's cream scarf and Ceris' leopard-print gloves but the blood kept pumping out.

Ceris, 43, who lives in Heath, Cardiff, said: 'There was blood pouring everywhere, like you see in the films. We were drenched. We looked like a scene from a massacre.'

Rebecca called her builder husband Paul who happened to be working at a house in Swanage Close, St Mellons, struggling to use her mobile telephone because her hands were so slippery with all the blood.

He arrived armed with bandages, masking tape and his trusty Stanley knife to cut the tape, in an attempt to hold Ernie's ripped paw together, before driving the dog to a vet in Pentwyn.

In the panic, they left the blood- soaked garments and instruments at Hendre Lakes, although the couple who have two children, Aaron, 17, and Jordan, 15, did return later on Monday evening.

Rebecca said: 'I don't know what I would have done if Paul hadn't been so close because Ernie was dying.

'I would have just had to stay there until he died. We went back down to see if we could find Paul's Stanley knife which he has had since he was 17 and he said, 'It looks like a murder scene down here'.

'I was so distressed we went back home.'

Rebecca has vowed not to return to Hendre Lakes because of the glass that litters the water banks.

'They need to sort it out up there,' she said.

'If this can happen to a dog, it could easily happen to a small child.'

As for Ernie, after a pounds 200 vet's bill, he is now home in St Mellons safe, sedated and with seven stitches in his paw. And he has managed to eat his favourite breakfast of jam and toast.

Copyright 2007 Western Mail and Echo Ltd
All Rights Reserved

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