Maeve's plea to find owner of dog that mauled pet cat to death in Northern Ireland
A Crawfordsburn woman has spoken of her sheer horror after her cat was mauled to death by a whippet-like dog, whose handler fled the scene.
Maeve Marnell (41) received the distressing news from a neighbour around 10.30pm on Friday that her beloved pet Maggie - a two year old rescue cat - had been viciously attacked by a dog.
"I knew it was Maggie, I just screamed 'no, no, no', I just couldn't accept it."
The savaged cat was found on a wooden path behind Mrs Marnell's home, which runs along the edge of Crawfordsburn Country Park.
"I went out to the path in my dressing gown and slippers, one neighbour was trying to keep me away, telling me not to look," she explained.
"Another neighbour took me back into the house and then my husband came in and said 'she's gone, she's dead' and I sat in the kitchen holding her, just sobbing while she was covered in blood, it was just awful."
Maggie was adopted only 11 weeks ago from the Assisi animal sanctuary along with a tabby named George.
Mrs Marnell and her husband had already been mourning their previous cat of 13 years, Mollie, who passed away in March.
"When Mollie died I was absolutely bereft, inconsolable and I didn't think I'd be able to love a cat again, but Maggie just forced me to love her because she was such a sweet cat," said Mrs Marnell.
Neighbours who witnessed the attack saw two dogs - a Jack Russell and a whippet - along with a man aged around 20 with dark hair who was said to have been bitten during the incident.
"Apparently the dog was hanging off his arm as he tried to get them off Maggie," she said.
Still on edge, Mrs Marnell quickly paused the interview at one point to check on her other cat when dogs could be heard barking outside.
Ards and North Down Borough Council is now making enquiries into a report that a whippet-type dog killed a cat in the area and a male, aged around 20, was seen with the whippet and a Jack Russell terrier.
Council officers have urged those with relevant information to contact them on 0300 013 3333 - asking for the Neighbourhood Environment Team.
Mrs Marnell said she believed illegal hunting for rabbits and badgers using dogs, known as lamping, occurred regularly in Crawfordsburn.
"I think it's despicable, I don't know how you can get any pleasure from that. Why would you want to watch your dog rip another animal to shreds?"
Her remaining cat, George, had lived with Maggie until their previous owner had passed away.
"On Saturday he didn't sleep and spent the whole day looking for Maggie. He's not himself and it's heartbreaking to watch," she said.
"I'd urge anyone who has seen this person with the dogs to come forward.
"I think the dogs should be rehomed, I don't want them killed. It's not their fault, it's the owner's.
"If you're not going to be responsible with your pets, then you shouldn't have them."