Sunderland Snowdogs vandalised before they are even launched

Artist Heather Penten with Snowdog Down the Rabbithole at Park Lane
Artist Heather Penten with Snowdog Down the Rabbithole at Park Lane
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Two of Sunderland’s Great North Snowdogs have been damaged ahead of tomorrow's big launch.

Sixty giant snowdog sculptures have been placed in high-profile locations across the North East as part of a public art trail which will run for the next ten weeks.

Artist Heather Penten examines the damage to Snowdog Down the Rabbithole

Artist Heather Penten examines the damage to Snowdog Down the Rabbithole

Once the trail ends, the sculptures will be auctioned off to raise funds for St Oswald’s Children’s Hospice.

The dogs were put in place over the weekend, but two in Sunderland have already been damaged.

A wing has been ripped off Aerodog, in Market Square, while Snowdog Down the Rabbithole, in Park Lave Interchange, has a hole in its neck.

Two Snowdogs in Newcastle has also been damaged.

Aerodog has been left lop-sided after one of his wings was broken off.

Aerodog has been left lop-sided after one of his wings was broken off.

Snowdog Down the Rabbithole, who celebrates Sunderland’s links with Lewis Carroll, is the work of Sunderland artist Heather Penten, who was devastated to learn it had been damaged.

"I heard first thing - it was not a nice thing to wake up to on Sunday morning," she said.

"I went down to have a look and I have been able to patch up the scuffs and scratches on it.

"I have fixed it up as best I can but we will have to get someone in to have a look at the hole."

The damage to Aerodog in Market Square is clearly visible.

The damage to Aerodog in Market Square is clearly visible.

Great North Snowdogs project lead Jane Hogan urged people to enjoy the dogs but remember they could be easily damaged: "We are very saddened to find that a number of the Great North Snowdogs which have been put in place over the weekend ahead of the trail opening tomorrow have been damaged.

"We are now appealing to the general public to please protect the dogs and to spread the word not to climb or sit on them. The dogs are all unique works of art which, at the end of the trail, will be sold to raise money for a children’s hospice," she said.

"We would also ask if anyone sees anyone damaging one of the dogs, to call the Police. The trail is a celebration of the region working together and to support a really important cause, St Oswald’s Children’s Hospice.

"We know the artists whose dogs have been damaged are devastated and we will be working hard with them and our emergency teams to repair them.

"Luckily, many of the dogs are in places monitored by CCTV cameras which will help us in keeping them safe but we are appealing to the public to help us in ensuring this doesn't happen again."