A LEADING animal charity has sent "humane education packs" to Basildon schools in the wake of an horrific air gun attack on a pet dog in Langdon Hills.

Packs - from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, - warn of an increasing number of pets being shot by air guns.

The charity, committed to ending animal suffering, has sent information sheets to 16 primary schools and three secondary schools in light of the air gun attack on a dog.

Two weeks ago, the Echo revealed youngster Chloe Pearce, 11, watched in horror as her pet, Dash, howled with pain after being shot as they walked through Langdon Hills Recreation Ground, off New Avenue.

The collie still faces an uncertain future, as the pellet is lodged near his spine, and vets fear removing it could leave him permanently disabled. Chloe's mum, Jo, said her daughter was also lucky to escape unhurt because the pellet narrowly missed her.

A 17-year-old Basildon youth has been issued with a court summons for being in possession of an air weapon in a public place, in connection with the offence, and is due to appear later this year.

Kate Schnell, of PETA, said: "The attack is part of an alarming increase in air gun attacks on pet animals and wildlife.

"Figures from the first seven months of 2007 reveal 442 animal-shooting incidents were investigated by the RSPCA in the UK.

"This number represents only a small percentage of the actual number of animals hurt, or killed, by air guns, as many animals crawl away and later die in agony from their injuries.

"To help fight against this trend, PETA is sending schools material to help children recognise the importance of compassion and empathy for all beings."