QUESTIONS have been raised over whether a council’s use of weedkiller led to the death of a family dog.

Rebecca Thomas-Leesmith has highlighted the case of her 12-year-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier cross-breed Smudge, who died shortly after she claims he came into contact with a herbicide sprayed by Wrexham Council workers.

Earlier this month, the authority said it had received no proven health complaints after concerns were raised over its spraying of glyphosate-based weedkiller following a recent US court case.

Chemical giants Monsanto were ordered to pay £226 million to a man who claimed products containing glyphosate caused his cancer.

Mrs Thomas-Leesmith, of Acrefair, said her pet fell ill almost immediately after she walked him along a grass verge at Black Park in Halton, near Chirk, which she believes had recently been treated with weedkiller. He then had to be put down 40 days later.

She said: “He was a rescue dog, but we had him fairly young. He was a super dog and he’d never really been ill at all until then.

“He seemed unwell for a couple of days, but what happened is he got gradually worse and he stopped eating.

“Then the vets told us that there was what they believed was a large cancerous lump and he never ate again.

“In the end we had to put him down because he wasn’t eating.

“I would have chosen to avoid any sprayed areas, but when it’s been newly sprayed there’s no way of telling.

“It’s only as it kills things and starts to go brown and then obviously later we realised it had been sprayed.”

Calls for an outright ban on the use of glyphosate were rejected by the council earlier this month.

However, it has committed to using a ‘minimum’ amount in light of recent concerns.

Most councillors were reassured by a report from officers which showed its usage had reduced from 373 litres in 2017 to 215 litres this year, and asked for the situation to be closely monitored.

But following Smudge’s death in October 2015, Mrs Thomas-Leesmith has backed Cartrefle councillor Ronnie Prince’s campaign for spraying in the county to come to a stop.

The 46-year-old added that she had been in contact with the council on 10 occasions, but her concerns were not addressed.

In response Cllr David A Bithell, Wrexham Council’s lead member for environment and transport, said there was no proven link between the dog’s death and the use of weedkiller.

He said: “We noted at the time that we try to use the minimum amount of weedkiller possible when treating verges and edges near public highways or in parks, and that all staff are trained in its proper, safe use.

“This matter was also queried at the start of executive board on Tuesday, September 11, with questions from Cllr Ronnie Prince and a response from Lawrence Isted, the head of environment and planning.

“In his responses to Cllr Prince, Mr Isted cited this matter and noted that the link between the death of the dog and the use of glyphosate-based weedkillers was not proven.

“We have repeatedly stated, and continue to state, that the use of glyphosate-based weedkillers is authorised by the European Union, British Government and the Health and Safety Executive.”

Cllr Bithell also invited Ms Thomas-Leesmith to contact the council to discuss the issue further.