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Verderers View: Dog Attacks / Presentments

At September’s Verderers Court, in his Announcements and Decisions, the Official Verderer, Dominic May, spoke of a recent successfully prosecuted dog attack, and affirmed the rules for length and relevance of Presentments to the Court.

Dog Attack

On April 21st, two bull mastiff dogs, owned by a visitor to Holland’s Wood Campsite, chased and viciously attacked a Shetland pony.  The pony was chased so far from the campsite that she was not found until the next day.  At first it was hoped she could be saved, but due to the severity of the injuries inflicted by the dogs, a vet recommended that she should be destroyed.

The owner of the dogs, Thomas Allen from Slough, was successfully prosecuted and has been fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £884 compensation to the pony’s owner and costs of £250.  

Northern end of Hollands Wood camp site, New Forest - - 43408
Northern end of
Hollands Wood camp site, New Forest.

We are very grateful to the staff at the campsite, to Forestry Commission Keeper Jonathan Cook, and to the police, for their actions and evidence which resulted in this successful prosecution.

We also thank the campers and staff at Holland’s Wood for their brave efforts in trying to drive off the dogs.   In doing so they undoubtedly risked being seriously injured themselves.

One of the dogs suffered a broken nose as a result of being kicked during the incident.

This successful prosecution sends a clear message to all dog owners that they must keep their animals under close control at all times when in the Forest.


We have recently suffered some irrelevant or over-long presentments from the public, so please may I remind the Court of our rules.

Presentments must be relevant, and should only address matters that are the responsibility of the Verderers or the Forestry Commission as set out in the various New Forest Acts and Forestry Acts, namely Conservation, Landscape, Governance, Management and Animal Health.

Secondly, presentments must be brief: no longer than five minutes. 

Thirdly, presentments must be moderately phrased and free of any express or implied abuse.

As chairman of the Court, I will stop any presentment from the public which is not relevant, brief or moderate.

Thank you.

Dominic May
Official Verderer
21st September 2016

— used with permission with our thanks.

This is part of the NFA’s initiative to publicise good works on the Forest.  Announcements and Decisions by the Verderers ordinarily do not enter the public record until the minutes of the whole Court, including the in camera sessions, are approved at the subsequent month’s sitting, unless directly reported by the local papers.

Here is the dog attack as covered by the Daily Echo.

Many visitors to the Forest do not take account of both the unpredictability of the Forest’s livestock, nor their own dogs facing their novelty.  Even though you are your dogs are allowed off lead, that does not make it always appropriate.  All are requested to have dogs under “close control” which may include use of the lead. The FC Byelaws state: “No person shall in or on the lands of the Commissioners:-…(xiv) permit a dog for which he is responsible to disturb, worry or chase any bird or animal or, on being requested by an officer of the Commissioners, fail to keep the dog on a leash;”.

Here is the National Park’s page on the New Forest Dog Walking Code.

It should be noted that an NFA representative swiftly tested the five minute limit on Presentments, and was duly cut short, as was one other presentment at Wednesday’s Court.

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