A pet dog has died after it was stabbed through the eye by a stick protruding from the ground in a popular Northumberland walking spot.

Gary Percy was walking Reign, a seven-year-old Springer Spaniel, along with his two other dogs at woods in Bedlington’s Gallagher Park – known locally as the Plantation.

Mr Percy has walked his dogs in the woods for decades – but on March 9, tragedy struck when Reign was fatally injured by the spear-like stick coming from the ground.

He claims the area was “extremely hazardous” and “unsafe” after works to clear trees felled by Storm Arwen.

Mr Percy said: “I was out walking my three dogs. They were just running around sniffing. Reign went away in front and I just heard him screaming out and shaking his head.

“He had his back to me and I didn’t realise, but the stick had went into his eye. The vet later told me it had gone into his brain.

“He had a four inch stick in his eye, there was blood pouring out. I picked him up to carry him and managed to get to the road and got some help to get him to the vet, but he had died when I got him there.

“I can still hear him screaming out. They’re my family. Reign was a beautiful English springer spaniel, he was so friendly and lovable.

“He loved going on his walks and we are absolutely heartbroken that he never returned back from that horrific day.”

The land had recently been subject to remedial work to remove trees damaged during Storm Arwen in November 2021, and Mr Percy believes debris had not been cleared away properly and was left in a dangerous condition.

He continued: “There are spears coming out of the ground and there are trees just waiting to fall. Everything has just been left all over, it is a disgrace.

“I do believe Reign would still be here if the area had been left in an acceptable condition – but unfortunately it wasn’t, making the area extremely hazardous and very unsafe.”

The issue was raised by Mr Percy’s local councillor, Coun Christine Taylor, at a recent meeting of Northumberland County Council. Coun Taylor questioned the council’s cabinet member for local services, Coun John Riddle, on the matter.

She said: “A local resident contacted me about a terrible accident that happened with his dogs. There were some remedial work to take down some trees that fell during Storm Arwen.

“The accident happened when Mr Percy was walking his dogs through the woods, which he has done for the last 20 years. There was bits of sticks which were left sticking out of the ground and the dog ran and impaled itself on the stick, which caused the very untimely and extremely painful death of the dog.

“What is the council going to do to prevent this from happening again? It was a dog this time, and that is bad enough – I’m a dog owner and a dog lover as many of us are – however it could have been a child or an elderly person, because that path is very well-used.”

Coun Riddle said he too was a dog lover, and added: “They’re second to our children and families, so I understand how upsetting it is, and I’m very sorry about that.

“The council immediately got in contact to investigate the area of woodland which was damaged extensively during Arwen. It was cleared by forestry contractors and it was considered that the contractors had left the area in an acceptable condition.

“Our highest priority is to ensure public safety at the park. This was a freak accident and it is not considered that any further actions would be proportionate to the risk posed at this and other sites in Northumberland.

“I’m sorry that is the response, but we can’t envisage every possible accident. We just have to do the best we can to meet the standards that are expected.”

Coun Taylor insisted the woods were “dangerous” due to the sticks coming out of the ground and added: “I don’t accept that’s an acceptable way to leave it.”

Coun Riddle accepted the invitation but added he believed the advice he had received from “expert officers”.

Mr Percy felt council officers hadn’t gone far enough into the woods to see the damage. And since the meeting, the council has confirmed it will carry out further inspections to ensure the area is safe.

A spokeswoman for the county council said: “Our sincere condolences go out to Mr and Mrs Percy at this sad time. We realise this is a very upsetting incident and have been in contact with Mr and Mrs Percy directly to investigate.

“This is an unfortunate accident which occurred in an area of woodland at the park and further checks will be undertaken to ensure public safety.”