A PENSIONER and her neighbours in Stifford Clays say their lives are being made a misery by a pack of foxes.

Betty Soul, 65, of Haven Place, is living in fear of the foxes who have taken up residence in the hedges adjacent to her house and have attacked her dog Susie twice.

There are estimated to be 12 foxes roaming in and around Haven Place, disturbing residents nightly with their loud screeching. They are causing a further nuisance by leaving excrement everywhere and digging up the residents' lawns.

It is claimed that the foxes have killed at least one cat already.

Mrs Soul, who moved into the council property on December 28 last year, says the problems began on the second night of her move to Haven Place.

She said: "I was inside the house when I heard a terrible noise, I went outside to find my dog, Susie, shaken and bleeding, the fox had taken a big lump out of her tail."

The second attack on Susie in June of this year was witnessed by next-door neighbour Mr Jack Mills, 60.

He said: "The foxes are very bold, I was sitting outside on the benchwhen all of a sudden a fox jumped out from the hedges on to the dog. I tried to get over there as quick as I could.

"I got right up to the fox and started ahouting but it didn't take any notice of me. In the end I had to kick it off to save the dog."

The stress of these attacks has caused six-year-old Susie to lose some of her fur and become very nervous.

Mr Mills has contacted Thurrock Council but is not satisfied with their response, he said: "I have rung the council about this so many times but I just keep getting fobbed off. They've told me that foxes are protected and there is nothing they can do except cut back the hedges, after about two months of calling them someone finally came down and cut the hedges a little but this has done nothing to stop the foxes."

Mr Mills took the opportunity to gather local support for his complaint at a Fete held at Daneholmes Primary school in June, and now has a growing petition of over 100 hundred people urging the council to take action.

He added: "Everyone I spoke to had something to say about the foxes in this area. Someone told me the foxes had made a den under their shed. Someone else said their kids soft toys had been ripped up in the garden.

"It is disgusting that the council will not do anything about this, I worry about my three-year-old grandson being outside."

Mrs Soul told of how the presence of the foxes has begun to take over her life: I hate the foxes. I have two cats as well as Susie and I have to let them out at nine and make sure that they are back in by six everyday. I cannot walk my dog on my own anymore as I am too scared of these foxes attacking her or me.

"It has got to the point where I want to move. I have asked the council for a house exchange."

Mr Mills has vowed to get more signatures on his petition and will be presenting it to local councillors at the monthly surgeries held at Blackshots library.

Letters: Fox fear is 'garbage'