Dog walkers are on red alert after three suspected cases of pet poisoning.

A black labrador named Sam died on December 28, a day after being taken for a walk on the Hamlands wooded area in Ham. His owner Pat Hilton said Sam fell extremely ill after coming back from the walk.

She said: "It was horrific. After we returned he didn't want to do anything except just lay there. I checked on him every hour during the night, and he died in the morning.

"The vet said he had picked up something very, very caustic that had melted his intestine, and his bowels were about to burst."

Mrs Hilton, from Ham, said that, about two weeks before Sam's death, she saw a dead fox in Riverside Drive and now believes the two incidents are related.

"There was no blood or anything, the fox was lying there just like my Sam," she said.

The matter is being investigated by the RSPCA, which is treating the incidents as suspicious.

Chief inspector Dave Fox of the RSPCA said: "We have heard reports of three dogs and two foxes dying in that area. We are treating them as suspicious circumstances in as much as witnesses say they clearly haven't been involved in road traffic accidents," he said.

Mr Fox said that one dog death has been confirmed by a vet as being death by poison, but the other animal deaths have been reports from witnesses, meaning the RSPCA is unable to carry out post mortems.

He said: "We want to avoid hearsay. We have made sure the local authority is aware of the incidents, and we ask everyone to keep their eyes open. Anyone with information should call us confidentially."

Professional dog walker Marie-Joelle Jeudy said she will not take her dogs to Hamlands.

"It is very worrying. We're not going to walk our clients' dogs there until we know for sure what has happened," she said.

Richmond Council confirmed two cases had been reported. A spokesman for the council said: "We are aware of the death of two dogs, the most recent on December 28.

"The other was around two weeks before. The exact cause of these deaths is still not known.

"The RSPCA is now involved and it, along with the council, is carrying out an investigation into the matter, to establish the cause."

Anyone with information should call 08705 555999 to speak to the RSPCA.

  • Has your pet been poisoned in the Hamlands area? Call reporter Lisa Williams on 020 8330 9550.