A WARNING for owners to keep their pets under control has been issued after a dog was caught off the lead scaring a family of swans.

Julia Fazakerley captured this photograph of a dog going after two swans and their young cygnets in Colchester’s Castle Park on Sunday.

Ms Fazakerly, of Wesley Avenue, Colchester, said: “Some dog walkers just cannot think ahead and put their dogs on a short lead.”

The incident happened less than a week after Colchester Council appealed to Castle Park visitors to avoid disturbing the cygnets, which are living in the park on the River Colne.

The council had also called for dog owners to keep their pets on a lead.

Following Sunday’s incident, a spokesman for the council said dogs can cause real distress to birds.

He added: “It is vital that dogs are kept under close control around the park, to avoid incidents like this happening.

“It is an offence for a dog to be out of control in a public place.

“We would urge visitors to be responsible and extra vigilant around wild animals.

“Dogs should be kept on a lead as it can cause real distress to birds that are nesting or protecting their young.

“The breeding season is a time when birds need to be given space and other animals kept at a safe distance.”

Last month a swan, affectionately nicknamed ‘Wonky’ due to its bizarre neck deformity, had to be put down after a dog attack.

The oddball swan, which lived in Manningtree, was left with his neck spiralling sideways after a member of the flock crash-landed on him last year.

Despite his unusual injury, the swan was coping well and was able to fend for himself.

But, Wonky had to be put down after a dog, which was off the lead at the time, attacked him.

The swan was left with severe wounds from which he could not recover.

Gill Lewis, founder of WeCare Wildlife Rescue in Manningtree, called the dog owners irresponsible.