By Martin Neville
ISLAND MP Andrew Turner has apologised after his out-of-control terrier savaged a pet polecat to death at the IW County Show.
It took four people and a bucket of cold water to get Bert, a nine-year-old Jack Russell rescue dog, off Socks the polecat after the terrier broke free from Mr Turner.
Bert reverted to his natural instincts while visiting the show at the weekend with Mr Turner.
The dog bolted after catching sight of the four-year-old polecat, being walked around the showground on a harness.
Mr Turner, Tory shadow minister for charities and a former party vice-chairman, said he very much regretted the incident and had apologised to the owner, Patricia Price, a member of the Isle of Wight Ferret Club, which was organising ferret racing at the Northwood showground.
Ms Price, a 52-year-old teacher, described the attack as horrific, as the dog shook Socks from side to side.
'I felt a yank on the lead and I saw the dog and knew whose it was and it had the polecat in its mouth and was shaking it,' she said.
'By the second shake, it was too late. The shock had over-powered his mental abilities. Around 12 people encircled the dog and one fellow had managed to get his hand inside the dog's mouth but could not get him to release his grip.'
Mrs Price, who has been a member of the IW Ferret Club for five years, said: 'The dog's instincts just took over and you can't blame him for that, although it was horrific to see and if any children had seen it, I'm sure they would have been quite tramatised by it.
'Many people knew Socks because he was a bit different. He was quite unusual in that he had distinctive white feet and we took him to all the shows every year.
'People like seeing them on a lead and like to stroke them. He was a well-loved family pet and enjoyed running on his lead.
'What happened was an unfortunate accident. I saw him (Mr Turner) untangling the dog leads about half an hour before the incident and it must have happened again.'
Only a cold bucket of water thrown on Bert finally got him to release his grip. Socks was examined by the site vet and was given something to calm down his shock. But it was all too late and Socks had to be put down.
Mr Turner, whose campaigns include supporting the case for an Isle of Wight slaughterhouse and other animal welfare issues, said: 'Bert is a lovely and affectionate dog but terriers were bred to catch rats, rabbits and similar animals.
'You can't train them out of it and I should have kept a firmer hold on him.'
The MP said he had just come out of a rather crowded tent and his lead was hopelessly tangled with his other puppy, Pickles.
'I was trying to disentangle them and Bert obviously felt the lead go slack at the same time as he saw the ferret about 20 yards away, and he was on to it before I could stop him.
'I will be contacting Mrs Price to apologise once again for what happened.'
Bert is no stranger to the terrain of the county showground. In 2004 he won the event's terrier racing competition.
Socks was one of five ferrets owned by the Price family, who live in East Cowes.