Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland woman's cat ‘chopped up for biofuel’ after being killed on road and taken to council

Veronica McMonagle's cat Gemini
Veronica McMonagle's cat Gemini
Veronica McMonagle with a picture of her cat Gemini
Leona O'Neill

By Leona O'Neill

A Londonderry woman has spoken of her horror after her beloved family cat was "chopped up and turned into biofuel" after being knocked down and killed on a road near her home.

Mother-of-one Veronica McMonagle (43) said she was "disgusted, horrified, distraught and having nightmares" after hearing that her beloved one-year-old cat Gemini was "rendered" - a process that converts waste animal tissue into usable materials - after being killed on the road near her Shantallow home.

She said her cat was microchipped and she wants the council to change its policies so that remains of cats are routinely scanned to find and inform their owners.

"I had a beautiful cat called Gemini," she said. "She was my pride and joy. I had got her and her sister Luna in a rescue centre and got them microchipped. She was such a gentle little thing and so affectionate.

"She just lit up my day. She never went far from home and when I let her out she'd be back within minutes, with her paw up on the kitchen window looking to get back in. She was a real homebody.

"I let her out on Tuesday morning and she didn't come back. I was asking everyone if they saw her. My father was driving past and saw her lying on the road near my house. He phoned and said someone must have knocked her down. I was utterly devastated. When he went back she was gone so I started phoning around all the vets in Derry to see if they had her, but they didn't. I was frantic at this stage.

"The next morning I called the council to see if they might have picked her up. The man on the phone said she had been taken to the pound. I called the pound and they told me that she had been 'rendered'. I asked what that meant and they said that she had been taken to a meat processing plant.

"I called the processing plant and they told me on the phone that they deal with roadkill.

"They told me that my Gemini was broken down, chopped up, cooked and turned to biofuel. I felt physically sick when she told me that. It was bad enough that my Gemini had died, but to learn that she met the most gruesome of fates after that was absolutely disgusting. I wanted her back. I was going to cremate her and put her ashes on the mantlepiece. She was my little light. I am so devastated.

"It is horrifying that this has happened. I just can't get over it. I am trying to get on with things but then I think what end she came to and I just break down. It's bad enough losing a precious pet, but for this to happen on top of it. It's just too much to bear.

"My Gemini was microchipped. Why did the pound not find this chip and contact me?"

Veronica said that she has been having nightmares about what happened to her precious family pet.

"I have not been well for the last number of years," she said.

"I have spent 15 years on dialysis. I have had heart attacks and strokes.

"I would be around the house an awful lot and my little cat was everything to me. Gemini was so affectionate and really helped me feel better.

"She was one in a million. I didn't even get to see my dear sweet Gem to say goodbye. That little cat meant the world to me and what happened to her will haunt my nightmares to the day I die."

A spokesperson for Derry City and Strabane District Council confirmed that the remains of a cat were brought to the dog pound earlier this week.

"The remains were scanned in an attempt to find an identifying chip but, as is often the case with roadkill, no chip was found and it was passed to a third party for rendering," said a spokesperson.

"While council's responsibility for licensing, fouling and lost or stray pets does not extend beyond dogs, in cases such as this where other animal carcasses are brought to the dog pound every attempt is made to locate the owner."

Local Independent Derry City and Strabane District Councillor Warren Robinson said that he will be asking the council to "put measures in place to make sure no other pet owner has to go through a similar and horrific ordeal".

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