Dog walkers are being warned to steer clear of a popular beauty spot in the New Forest after fears at least 11 pets have been killed by a poison lingering there.
Dogs have died after being exercised at Latchmore Brooke in Hampshire, and vets say they have been poisoned through small cuts in their legs or paws, which has led to kidney failure.
It is thought there could have been more than the known 11 fatalities if pets belonging to tourists had been taken home before the symptoms were detected.
There is also a concern that the area could be a risk to human health.
According to the Daily Mail, the area was used to test bombs in the Second World War, leading some to think deadly chemicals could be to blame.
It is also thought any water or soil-borne poison could have recently been disturbed by heavy rain.
Louise Beal, of North Gorley, lost her springer spaniel Bruno a week after exercising him near Ogdens car park.
Bruno cut his paw, which Mrs Beal treated with disinfectant before taking him to the vet. He was given antibiotics, but his condition deteriorated, and he then had to be hooked up to a drip and taken to renal specialists Anderson Moores in Winchester.
Mrs Beal told the Bournemouth Echo: "The vet thinks it's an unidentified toxin that has worked its way up through disturbed soil, a bit like anthrax.
"We just want to save other people having to go through this - it's been the most awful week.
"I'm worried that the weather will warm up and there will be small children up there. What if this affects humans too?"
The newspaper reports that the Environment Agency has launched an investigation in conjunction with the Forestry Commission and the New Forest District Council.
According to the Daily Mail, tissue samples from the dead pets have been sent to a US laboratory that specialises in renal problems in dogs, but it will take time for results to arrive back in the UK.
The vet who treated Bruno, Duncan Reavell, is also working on discovering the cause of the dogs' deaths.
He told the Bournemouth Echo: "This cluster of cases is not chronic kidney failure caused by old age but acute kidney failure caused by something that we haven't been able to identify yet."
And Roger Stobbs of the Forest Veterinary Clinic in Fordingbridge, said: "I would advise dog walkers to stay away from the area."
He added that if dogs do go through there, veterinary advice should be sought if there is any sign of injury.
Dog stung to death by bees in California
Dog put on wrong flight ends up in Ireland