Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

How a vile attack on family pet prompted a mum to act

Cruft's has just featured the most pampered canines in the Western world, but sadly a dog's life isn't always like that. Natalie Agnew (36) and her family discovered this in the worst possible way last autumn when their young collie dog Cody was set alight by a couple of thugs.

Mrs Agnew – who has since become a fierce campaigner for proper penalties in animal cruelty cases and been nominated for a top award – said she wants justice for her and her sons' beloved pet. "I'm used to talking about it now but there have been lots of tears. The PSNI are putting together a case at the moment.

"The men who hurt Cody poured lighter fluid all over her and set her alight. My sons Justin, who's 10, and Jake, who's seven, would ask me and my husband Martin, 'how could two people do this?'" she said.

And now Natalie, a sports therapist, has been shortlisted for the prestigious UK-wide Ceva animal welfare award which will be announced on April 3.

She explained why she wanted to campaign. "Two reasons: I'd like these men to be made an example of and it's important to make people realise animal rights are important. Experts say that people who do this may go on to other crimes against people. It's unlikely to be a one-off."

Natalie started with a Facebook page and people donated so much initially for Cody's vet fees, that the Agnews donated the rest to animal charities. They also designed T-shirts and merchandise with Cody's name on, to raise more money, "so her name will live on".

The family aim to raise enough money to fund a guide dog and a police dog. "That will help people see animals do good things and deserve respect."

Nowadays, the Agnews have a new canine to love – Rex, a collie puppy. They still haven't decided where to lay Cody's ashes to rest – "probably near a favourite walk" – but have managed to transform a vile experience into something good.

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