Swans become sitting ducks in drainage blunder

Photographer-Ian Georgeson-07921 567360'The council drain the water from Inverleith pond to clear rubbish from the bottom.
Photographer-Ian Georgeson-07921 567360'The council drain the water from Inverleith pond to clear rubbish from the bottom.
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TWO swans are being treated by specialist vets after they were attacked by dogs when council workers accidentally drained a city pond.

The Inverleith Park pond was left empty yesterday morning after a valve was left open following a routine adjustment of the water levels the previous day.

Dogs were able to run on to the drained basin and attack the swans, which were rescued by the SSPCA.

Council chiefs described the attack as “regrettable” and a “very distressing incident for onlookers”.

Workers spent much of yesterday refilling the pond with fresh water and cleaning out debris at the same time.

The SSPCA has asked dog walkers to keep hold of their pets while the swans are vulnerable.

George Simpson, 60, who regularly walks his dog in the park, first raised the alarm on Wednesday, but said nothing was done.

He said: “I was down at Inverleith Park on Wednesday and the water level was dropping significantly.

“I phoned the council customer services department but they didn’t do anything. When I came down yesterday morning the entire pond was drained.

“I was speaking to one of the council workers and he said ‘some clown’s left the valve open’.

“It’s a shame. The poor swans were gathered around this wee puddle in the middle because the rest of the water had gone.”

Another dog walker, George Cook, 73, who was trying to feed the swans bread with his three-year-old granddaughter, added: “The swans are a bit distressed by this. It seems like the workers have pulled the plug by accident.”

SSPCA senior inspector Stuart Murray said the attacks could have been fatal.

He said: “One has a wound to its leg, most likely from a dog bite, and is receiving treatment while the other is in slightly better condition having been bruised.

“Both are in outside pools and will most likely be returned to the water within three to five days.

“Dog walkers should always ensure their pets are under strict control in public. The dogs involved should not have been able to attack these swans, which were unable to swim to safety due to the low water level.

“Very often dog attacks on swans are fatal so we can be thankful this pair survived.”

A city council spokeswoman said: “This was a very distressing incident for onlookers and for the animals involved and we are grateful to the SSPCA and the emergency services for their prompt assistance in response to what happened.

“Regrettably, a valve in the pond at Inverleith Park had not been closed completely following a routine adjustment of water levels.”

She added: “We hope the resident swans will be returned to their habitat as soon as it is safe to do so.

“Our environmental wardens are patrolling the park and we would ask that all dog walkers please keep their dogs on a lead while the pond is being refilled.”

rory.reynolds@edinburghnews.com