DOG owners have been seen encouraging their pets to damage trees in a Kidderminster park.

Wyre Forest District Council understands owners are training their dogs to fight in St George’s Park by making them attack the bases of trees which is destroying the bark.

It appears to be mainly Staffordshire Bull Terriers which are causing the damage and local residents are being urged to contact the police with any information.

Kidderminster Mayor, Conservative councillor John Aston said: “I saw somebody in Spennells shouting and telling their dog to ‘go on’ while it attacked the root at the bottom of the tree. I thought they were playing.

“When you go out with your own dogs, take a walking stick as it is your only means of defence against the fighting dogs. It seems the problem is spreading throughout the country.”

Alvan Kingston, arboricultural officer at the council, said: “It’s difficult to believe this practice is taking place. The damage is caused by fighting dogs, they are forced to do it to strengthen their muscles in their jaws to aid them in combat.”

The council is also concerned as the damaged trees provide environmental and amenity benefits to the area.

Counciller Ian Hardiman, cabinet member for community Well-Being said: “The eventual death of up to a third of the trees in St. George’s Park can be blamed on the small number of irresponsible owners who are training their dogs in this unacceptable way.”

Residents are being urged to contact West Mercia Police on 101, quoting the incident reference number 112/S/141112.

Any information about owner’s size, clothes, hair colour, ethnicity and the colour of the dog would be appreciated.