PEOPLE have called for more action to be taken against those who fish illegally after a beloved pet dog nearly died from swallowing a fish hook.
It comes following life-threatening injuries were caused to a dog last month when it accidentally swallowed a hook being used by unlicensed fishermen on the Wiltshire and Berkshire Canal.
Bella, a three-year-old chocolate Labrador, was being walked along the path next to the canal, behind Dunsford Close, on August 23.
The pet had to undergo several operations and arrived back home yesterday after being kept at the vets for observation.
Owner Douglas Love, 35, is now facing a bill of £5,000 for the operations and wants action to be taken against the fishermen.
“It’s absolutely brilliant she is back home,” said Douglas, a restaurant manager.
“The vet said there was nothing more that could be done there, so now it’s important to get her back into a routine and back with the people who love her.”
Mr Love said the council, which owns the canal and adjacent tow path, needed to take responsibility for the land and do something about the anglers.
He said: “It’s just not acceptable. The fishermen get aggressive when you approach them and leave a mess all over the path.
“We pay our council tax so something should be done about it. A lot of people in this area have dogs and many have said this is a problem.”
By law, the owner of the land is responsible for taking action against illegal fishing but monitoring the whole length of the canal is resource intensive.
The council claims it is limited in what action it can take and that it works with other bodies to police the canal.
A spokesman said: “We have had signs up on the tow path of the Kingshill section of the canal for a number of years stating that fishing is not permitted, but we do not have the resources to monitor the site all the time.
“The Environment Agency’s Fisheries bailiff does carry out regular patrols and has the power to issue formal warnings to people who are fishing illegally, which can lead to prosecution.
“We are planning to remove some of the fish stock over the coming months, which we hope will curb the amount of illegal fishing taking place on this stretch of water.”
The Wiltshire and Berkshire Canal Trust is responsible for the maintenance and improvement of the canal and over time will take ownership of the whole canal.
Ray Aldridge, the acting chairman, said: “We put up signs along the canal about two or three years ago at the request of the council.
“Illegal fishing is becoming more and more of a problem along the canal. As we take ownership of the canal it will be something we will need to do more research into as we are certainly against it.
“There are stretches along the canal where fishing, with a licence, is permitted and the majority of fishers are extremely responsible.”
Wiltshire Wildlife has supported the stand against illegal fishing.
“The techniques often used can be quite barbaric” said Neil Pullen, reserves manager. “Lines may be left in overnight and the fish caught can be left to a slow and agonising death. Similar to this incident, other animals can get caught on the hooks and suffer horrendous pain.
“As an angler myself I know Swindon has plenty of fully-stocked fishing areas. Anyone who is keen on taking up fishing should get a licence and join one of the town’s clubs.”