FIVE years ago, dog owners in Cross Hills were living in fear.

Eight dogs had died and others had become seriously ill after ingesting strychnine poison while walking in fields and a footpath off Station Road.

The dogs "suffered horrendously", having convulsions before dying, a spokesman for the RSPCA said at the time.

Despite investigations by the RSPCA and North Yorkshire Police, the culprit was never found.

Now, the fear is back - with the news that at least four pets could have been poisoned.

Fortunately none has lost its life, but the situation is very worrying, particularly for local dog walkers in the area.

This time, the focus of attention is on a popular dog-walking spot off Binns Lane, Glusburn - not far from the original location.

One theory is that the latest poison was put on salami-type sausage meat, which was picked up by the dogs.

We agree with Cllr Philip Barrett when he says the poisonings are a despicable act. Of course, not everyone is an animal lover, but that is a far cry from wishing dogs actual harm.

Concerned owners have put up notices to warn others of the danger - and, indeed, we join those urging dog walkers to be extra vigilant and report anything suspicious to the police and Craven District Council's environmental health officer.

It is at times like this that communities must work together in a bid to get rid of the problem. Anyone found deliberately poisoning an animal faces a fine of up £20,000 and/or six months in prison under the Animal Welfare Act.

Last time, the poisonings led to the formation of the Glusburn Dog Fouling Action Group. It organises patrols, photographing any owners who act irresponsibly, and has installed weather-proof bag dispensers around the district.

Let's hope there is a positive ending to this latest spate of incidents.