A NURSE has told how her pets were "dognapped" by an angry landowner during a weekend walk.

Emma Heslop was walking her three dogs - an English springer spaniel and two Hungarian wirehaired vizslas - on a public footpath in a field near Richmond, North Yorkshire, when she became embroiled in a dispute with the landowners.

Miss Heslop, 35, from Skerne Way, Darlington, said the two older dogs were off their leads but walking to heel, while the younger viszla was kept on a lead.

The dog owner said she was approached by a man who demanded that she put all animals on leads, which she refused to do.

A woman then drove into the field in a 4x4 vehicle. Miss Heslop said the woman tried to forcibly take the dog that was on a lead from her, while the man grabbed the spaniel and put it in the vehicle.

According to Miss Heslop, the man then called the police while the woman continued trying to take the lead.

When the animal in the vehicle became distressed, the dog owner said she let the woman take the lead and the dog from her so she could go to the spaniel's aid. The young dog was led away by the woman.

The dogs were only returned when a police community support officer arrived after about half an hour.

Miss Heslop said all three dogs were working gundogs and had she had control over them at all times, adding that she kept the animals off leads near horses for her own safety.

She said the dogs had not been worrying livestock and the landowners' reaction to "dognap" her pets had been aggressive and unnecessary.

She added: "We hadn't done anything wrong - it was just a bit weird.

"I just wanted to leave so didn't make a complaint to the police but wish I had."

The incident occurred close to the Hollies Riding School near the village of Hudswell.

The Northern Echo understands that Miss Heslop was involved in the altercation with riding school owners Michelle and Mark Firby, who declined to comment yesterday.

A spokesman for North Yorkshire Police confirmed that an officer had attended, but neither party made a complaint.

According to the Countryside Code, dog owners must keep their pet under "effective control".

This means that dogs must be on a lead or kept in sight at all times, the owner must be confident it will return promptly on command.

The code also advises that it is "good practice" to keep pets on a lead near livestock and horses.