A POPULAR puppy club is facing an uncertain future after its members came under attack from a gang of yobs.
Miss Mary Sharples, 68, who runs the club, was unpacking her car in Marshall Avenue, Huncoat, when three youths started hurling abuse at her.
After she entered the Methodist Church, one of the youths tried to follow her in but after a bit of a struggle she managed to close the door behind her.
But in the process Miss Sharples trapped her finger, ripping all the skin off and leaving her in agony.
She said: "It was a horrendous night. I have no idea why they started on me. It just flared up."
She had spotted the youths playing on a building site across from the church. "I never said a word to them," she added. "They were very abusive and started on me as I was getting out the tea, coffee, sugar and cash boxes from my car."
"It was really scary and very traumatic."
Miss Sharples, who has been a professional dog trainer for 46 years, has been running the dog club for four years.
It has around 20 members who flock to the church every week with their pets and train them to be more sociable and obedient.
But Miss Sharples fears the situation could get worse and she does not want to put any members or pets at risk.
She said: "If this sort of thing starts happening on a regular basis, I will have no other choice but to stop the club. I can't have my dogs and handlers being intimidated by these youths."
"It is the puppies I am most concerned about."
"They are young and vulnerable, just like children."
"When they get agitated we can't calm them down. If kids start throwing stones the dogs don't know what's going on."
Miss Sharples said the police were contacted about the incident but failed to turn up.
She added: "I had to cut the meeting short and send the members home. They will pay half next time because I stopped it. I phoned the police twice but no-one came. I know they have been busy with this terrorist stuff in Blackburn but they should have someone on stand-by.''
Delys Ashton, who helps run the Huncoat Neighbourhood Project, said it would be a disaster if the group pulled out of the church altogether.
She said: "The church relies heavily on the rents groups like this pay to keep community resources open."
"We could not keep it open otherwise."