Belfast businessman's beloved dog mauled to death in kennels
A Belfast businessman has told of his devastation after his beloved pet dog was mauled to death while being cared for in boarding kennels.
Jeff Faulkner, who runs the multi-award-winning Belfast salon Partners Hair and Beauty with Paul Meekin, says he is heartbroken over the loss of his "best friend", 13-year-old Mel.
And he spoke in defence of the boarding kennels where Mel was savagely attacked by another dog on Monday while Jeff was preparing to return from a weekend trip to London.
The well-known Belfast man was in Luton airport waiting to board the plane to return home when he was told that Mel had been rushed to the vet after being attacked. Just as he boarded he got another call to say that efforts to save his faithful friend had failed and Mel had passed away as a result of her injuries which he described as "horrific".
Mel accompanied Jeff to work every day to his Belfast salon where she was a popular character with clients who referred to her as "the wee woman" and "a real lady".
Grieving Jeff said he felt like he had lost a member of his family and described Mel's death as "a tragic, tragic freak accident".
He said: "It is just so hard for me to comprehend. I left her on Friday and expected to see her again on Monday.
"I flew to London on Saturday with my partner because we had won a spa break in Champneys in a competition.
"When I got the phone call in Luton airport it was like my world stopped and I was still spinning.
"I don't know the circumstances; all I know is my dog is dead. The owner of the kennels met me at the vets but it was too late. The vet didn't let me see Mel's injuries because they were quite horrific."
However, Jeff is not blaming the boarding kennels where he said Mel was spoiled and loved during regular stays over a number of years.
He said the owner was devastated by what happened and Jeff described him as "a lovely man".
He said: "Mel stayed in those kennels a lot and she genuinely loved the man who looked after her.
"He allowed her into his own bedroom, that's how much he cared for her. If I had another dog I would trust it with them.
"For some reason a larger dog attacked and killed Mel and no one else was in the room at the time."
Jeff has been inundated with messages from well-wishers since the tragedy on Monday. Clients of the salon have also been expressing their sorrow and shock on the company's Facebook page.
Mel was loved by all of the regulars at Partners Hair and Beauty and the terrible circumstances of her death left the salon in mourning this week.
Jeff added: "She was very precious and a bit spoiled if I am honest. She loved people and everyone who came into the salon loved Mel, she was just a beautiful dog.
"I feel like I have lost a member of my family. Hopefully I gave her a good life. I am grieving now but I know I will get over it and I have good memories.
"The vet told me she would have been in pain when she was attacked but she wasn't in pain at the end. I just wish I could have been there."