A DOG caused a three-car crash on the M65 motorway, sparking rush-hour traffic disruption yesterday morning.

The spaniel-type dog was killed in the collision which left a trail of debris across the westbound carriageway near Junction 12 at Nelson.

Police said the dog had got separated from its owner in nearby fields just before the incident at 8.50am.

A Vauxhall Zafira, Honda Accord and Audi A6 were involved in the collision, but none of the occupants were injured.

The vehicles were moved to the hard shoulder before they were recovered.

Sgt David Hogarth, from Lancashire's motorway police, said: “It is quite rare for an animal to cause a motorway pile-up but it’s a good to see people wearing their seatbelts.

“It has prevented any serious injuries.

“We can confirm that the dog was dead at the scene.

“It was a spaniel-type dog and it would appear it had been out walking in a nearby field and got separated from its owner.

“We have not been able to trace the owner yet.”

Two ambulances attended the scene but nobody needed hospital treatment.

Laura Robinson, Pendle dog warden, said owners should keep their pets on leads when walking near busy roads.

She said: “It’s basic common sense not to let dogs off their leads near busy roads and motorways.

“Things can spook dogs and dogs should be kept on a lead for the owner’s safety, the animal’s safety and the safety of others.

“Sometimes people don’t think about what could happen, even when there are busy roads or motorways nearby.

“The drivers of the cars were very lucky. Someone could have been seriously hurt.

“It sounds like a freak accident, but it shows how quickly a situation can escalate.

“If the fencing keeps in livestock, then it is adequate enough.

“People need to have better control of their pets.”