FARMER Albert Gallop poisoned two pet dogs with slug pellets intended for a fox that had killed his newborn lamb, a court heard.

The actions of Gallop, 76, of Oxlynch, Stonehouse, left seven-month-old lakeland terrier Milly dead and seven-year-old Irish terrier Beamish ill after they ate the poison on a lamb chop.

The dogs' owner Mark Stephens, also of Oxlynch, said: "I can't get over the distress it caused.

"It was something totally avoidable."

The court heard that the incident happened on a regular morning jog on March 7, 2007 as Mr Stephens and his dogs were crossing Tudor House Farm on a public footpath.

Both dogs negotiated a stile ahead of him and bolted five metres right into a wood.

Mr Stephens, a Cheltenham restaurant owner, called Milly back, put her on a lead and went after Bemish to find him eating a jelly substance containing blue flicks.

He went to the farm to ask about the substance, but Gallop assured him he did not use poison on the farm.

Mr Stephens went to work and a dog walker reported that the dogs were fine after she had taken them out at 1.30pm.

But when he returned at 7.30pm, he found Milly apparently dead and Beamish unable to move his back legs.

Milly was later declared dead by a vet in Stroud and Beamish recovered on a drip the next day.

A search of the farm on March 15 by the RSPCA, Stroud Police and Natural England scientists revealed a 20kg open bag of slug pellets in a barn.

Scientific tests confirmed the slug pellets, the dogs' vomit and Milly's organs contained the slug poison metaldehyde.

In an interview that day in Stroud Police Station, Gallop claimed the slug pellets were only for his garden, but in a second interview on May 9 admitted he had put them on some meat to kill a fox that had savaged his lamb.

"I wanted to get rid of the fox, because if he had done it once, he might do it again," he said.

He said he put it by the barn 80 to 90 yards from the footpath and did not think it would harm other animals.

"There's no reason the dogs should've been that far from the footpath anyway. They were on my property."

Gallop pleaded not guilty at Coleford Magistrates' Court to two charges of causing unnecessary suffering to the dogs and one charge of leaving poisoned food without traking reasonable precautions.

He was ordered to pay £1,100 costs plus £426 witness expenses.