Goose with 4ft dog chain around neck rescued from the Rochdale Canal

The Canadian Goose was found with a 4ft dog chain around its neck. Credit: RSPCA

A goose had to be rescued from a canal after it was found with a dog chain around its neck - in an "irresponsible, cruel and foolhardy" attempt to take it for a walk.

RSPCA officers were called to the bird after it was seen struggling to swim along the Rochdale Canal in Middleton, Greater Manchester, dragging the chain, measuring more than 1.2 metres, behind him.

The chain was tightly attached to the base of the goose's neck by a self-tightening nylon collar.

It is believed the lead was deliberately put onto the bird so he could be taken on a walk along the canal.

The weight of the chain had left the goose unable to swim or fly property and he was tiring in the water when the RSPCA team arrived.

Animal Rescue Officer Stephen Wickham who carried out the rescue with his colleague Mark Buggie, said: “When we got the call we were initially told the goose had become tangled up in something but when we arrived we could see it was actually a long piece of dog chain he was dragging along in the water behind him.

“He used what little energy he had left to swim away from us but we managed to block his access using the raft at a lock gate a little further downstream and get him out of the water.

"We found two dog leads had been tied together and the collar around his neck was self-tightening.

"If he’d caught it on a branch or a piece of debris in the water he could have been fatally strangled.

Rescuers were able to capture the bird safely and remove the chain. Credit: RSPCA

“We got the chain off and gave him a good check over for injuries and luckily couldn’t find any.

"I’ve rescued countless water birds over the years but I’ve never seen anything like this before.

"We’ve no idea why anyone would want to catch a goose and put a dog lead on it - we can only guess those responsible may have been trying to take the bird for a walk or attempting to inflict harm on it in some way.

“It was a reckless and unkind thing to do and could easily have resulted in serious injury or death.”

The Canada goose was released in situ under licence from Natural England. Without one it is illegal to return them to the wild as they are an invasive species.

All wild birds are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and it is an offence to intentionally kill, injure or take them except under licence.

The maximum penalty, if found guilty, is six months in prison and/or an unlimited fine.

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