Star RAF CREDIT Emma Sagar Twitter 28032023 .jpg
A pet dog named Star was put to sleep due to suspected spinal injuries from a fallen tree (Picture: Emma Sagar Twitter).

RAF family's dog put down after injuries from 'dangerous tree' that fell at military home

Star RAF CREDIT Emma Sagar Twitter 28032023 .jpg
A pet dog named Star was put to sleep due to suspected spinal injuries from a fallen tree (Picture: Emma Sagar Twitter).

An RAF family say their pet dog had to be put to sleep after the contractors responsible for maintaining their military home failed to remove a 'dangerous tree' right next to their garden.

The family, who live at RAF Henlow in Bedfordshire, previously reported that part of the tree had already collapsed and requested the remainder of the tree be removed, but "to no avail".

On Monday evening, they say they heard a "massive bang and barking" and went outside to find their pet spaniel "shaking like mad".

The family had already reported the tree to the private firms who have been awarded multimillion-pound contracts from the Ministry of Defence (MOD) to maintain military housing.

Emma Sagar-Gray, a British Army veteran of 25 years who lives with her RAF husband who is still serving and is currently deployed on operation overseas, says: "Last year, part of the tree in question fell down into an area behind my house.

"When the contractors came to sort it out they said they could only deal with the part which had fallen down – not the remainder of the tree which, in their opinion, was ok."

Watch: Campaigner describes nightmare of housing situation for some military families.

"I voiced my disappointment at them not taking the risk seriously as you could see the tree was dead in parts. I contacted Pinnacle and asked them to remove the tree, to no avail."

Mrs Sagar-Gray says of the incident on Monday: "I heard a massive bang and barking and opened the back door to see my dogs there shaking like mad."

After realising the tree had collapsed into the garden, she said there was no evidence that her dogs had been injured.

Then the next morning, spaniel Star kept collapsing so, Mrs Sagar-Gray says: "I drove her straight to the vets where they confirmed she had a temperature of over 40° and some kind of spinal trauma as she could not weight-bear on her hind legs."

Fallen tree CREDIT emma sagar Twitter .jpg
Emma Sagar says that she had previously reported the tree to private firm Pinnacle and to the contractor Amey (Picture: Emma Sagar Twitter).

While at the vet's, Star was prescribed pain relief and anti-inflammatory medication for more than 24 hours, in the hope that there would be an improvement if it was a muscular injury.

However, Mrs Sagar-Gray says she was then advised by the vet to "make the heartbreaking decision to put her to sleep", adding: "Unfortunately there was no improvement whatsoever, leading them to conclude a spinal cord injury was more than likely."

Pinnacle Group, which is responsible for logging calls and forwarding them to the relevant contractors, says its records show that all calls they received about the state of the tree were reported to the contractor Amey Plc.

A spokesperson for Pinnacle Service Families said: "We are in touch with the DIO and Amey to examine all of the circumstances of what happened and would like to extend our deepest sympathy to the family."

In March 2022, the Ministry of Defence awarded a £144m contract to the accommodation management service provider Pinnacle Group.

Pinnacle is responsible for 49,000 military homes and provides the lead customer-facing role for those reporting issues to their homes.

matthew and star at home CREDIT Emma Sagar.jpg
Emma Sagar-Gray says that Star was her late son Matthew's dog (Picture: Emma Sagar).

Amey was awarded an MOD contract for the maintenance of Service Families Accomodation in  Central and North region in June 2021.

The Central region includes Central England and Mid and South Wales and the contract is worth £124m in total. The Northern region includes Scotland, Northern Ireland and North Wales and that contract is worth £83m.

Responding to the family's ordeal, an Amey Plc spokesperson said: "We are working closely with the DIO and Pinnacle to identify the circumstance surrounding this very sad incident. We are unable to comment further at this time.

"This is an incredibly sensitive case and we would like to extend our condolences to the individuals involved."

According to the Defence Infrastructure Organisation's (DIO) website, the DIO is an operating arm of the Ministry of Defence and they are "the estate expert for defence, supporting the Armed Forces to enable military capability by planning, building, maintaining, and servicing infrastructure".

Watch: Military families raise concerns over mould and children's health due to run-down service accommodation,

Mrs Sagar-Gray says that Star belonged to her son Matthew, who she lost 10 years ago to the rare neurological condition spinocerebellar ataxia type 7.

"He was three years old," she said. "He was obsessed with Star. His last word spoken was actually Star."

A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: "Our sympathies are with the family and we are investigating the circumstances around this very sad incident.

"The contractors responsible for this area are looking at this case as a priority."

This comes after a wave of complaints has been made regarding the state of military housing and the MOD confirmed they are now withholding payments from the contractors responsible for the upkeep of military homes.

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