A hotel chain has suspended pest control measures after a family dog was shot dead on its Hampshire golf course. Four-year-old whippet Wilma was shot last week after apparently getting on to the Marriott Meon Valley course through its owner's adjoining hedge. The hotel chain said it was "deeply sorry" after Wilma was mistaken for a rabbit. Hampshire police confirmed an investigation was ongoing and no arrests have been made.
The hotel chain said its pest controllers were "fully trained and
licensed". Owner John Kirby said Wilma was "a much-loved member of the family". Mr Kirby's garden backs on to the golf course, separated by a hedge. He described hearing a "muffled crack" on Tuesday night and later discovered
Wilma on the golf course-side of the hedge with a fatal gunshot wound to the
chest. Mr Kirby insisted he was "fully aware" where the dog was and could hear her at
the time of the shooting.
He insisted Wilma never strayed on to the actual greens of the course and
always came back quickly when called. He criticised the hotel's pest control
measures. "Anyone in charge of a high-powered rifle should be more aware of their
surroundings and be 100% [sure] about what they're shooting at, which they
blatantly weren't," he said. A statemaent from Marriott Meon Valley Hotel and Country Club near
Winchester said it was fully co-operating with the police investigation.
"Pest controllers are employed to prevent damage to the golf course and
grounds. This is standard industry practice across most golf courses in the UK and
the pest controllers are fully trained and licensed. Until [the police investigation] is complete we have suspended all pest
control across our UK hotels. We are deeply sorry for the distress this unprecedented and sad incident has
caused the dog's owners."
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