‘The vets I contacted were angry. No vet would put a dog to sleep and not remove the needle from the body afterwards’
On Tuesday, December 27, Fedelma King and her son Stephen were taking a walk in the local forest to check-up on some bird boxes when they noticed the large box close to the path with several rocks placed on top of it.
Fedelma is a keen animal lover and former member of the Wicklow SPCA committee. She also operates Kings Kennel for dog hoardings and has over 40 years of experience with dogs.
She recalled: “We were walking along the path when we both noticed the large plastic box. We continued along our way but I thought it was strange to come across a plastic container, so on the way back we stopped to have a look.
"Stephen had a closer look and said the box felt very heavy. We were a bit wary of opening the box because anything could have been in it. We peered in and noticed something was wrapped in what looked to be a dog blanket. We had a closer look and there was a dead, tanned coloured dog inside.”
Fedelma returned home and contacted the Gardai but was unwilling to leave the remains of the dog sitting out in the open for any longer.
“There was no way I was going to bed that night knowing that the poor dog’s body was still out in the forest. I rang a number of vets and found one open. They checked the dog’s body and found that the dog was chipped, but with a horse microchip rather than one for a dog.
It was a young female Staffordshire that had been put to sleep. Alarmingly, the needle that put her to sleep was still stuck in her arm.
"Initially I thought maybe the dog had been knocked down by a car, but there were no marks or injuries on her body. She appeared perfectly healthy.”
Fedelma then went about contacting other veterinary clinics in the area to see if anyone had put a dog down over the Christmas period whose owners wanted the remains returned to them rather than cremated.
“None of the vets I contacted had put any dogs to sleep during Christmas but they were extremely annoyed and angered by what I told them. No vet would put a dog to sleep and not remove the needle from the body afterwards.”
The Gardai got back to Fedelma and are continuing to investigate the matter. Fedelma is also making her own efforts to try and track down whoever was responsible.
“It’s not something you expect to come across, especially at Christmas time,” she said.
“I was extremely annoyed and upset. What if a child had found the box? They would have been terrified. The box was left right beside the path and in my opinion, it was left there to be found, for some sick reason. It’s pathetic.
"Even if the owner didn’t have enough money to have the dog cremated, they still cold have buried the body into the earth in the woods.
“The body hadn’t been there long when we discovered it because it hadn’t started to decompose yet. I would still love to find out who owned the dog as it’s such an inhumane way to treat an animal.”
Unfortunately, the numbers of abandoned and unwanted pets have grown increasingly since lockdown ended, with many pets purchased or adopted during Covid restrictions no longer wanted now society has opened back up.
“In a way it was lucky that it was me and Stephen who found the remains. I have worked with dogs all my life, while a lot of other people probably would have opened the box and then ran away when they saw what was inside.
“I constantly see the way people treat their dogs. Dogs became hugely popular during Covid and many owners now no longer want their pets and the responsibilities involved. The Government don’t do enough to tackle the problem. You get no votes from dogs, otherwise politicians would do something about it.”