A Northamptonshire family say they have been left devastated after their neighbour admitted drowning the pet dog bought as a gift for their late, disabled daughter.
Alan and Alison Boddington of Watling Street, Long Buckby, got border terrier Meg when she was an eight-week-old puppy as a gift for their seriously-ill daughter Lauren.
They say the ‘lovely-natured’ pet was one of their only abiding memories of Lauren after she died in 2008, aged just ten.
But on July 26 this year the family launched a search for seven-year-old Meg, after she was believed to have gone missing from their garden.
After three days of fruitless searching it emerged a neighbour two doors away had taken the pet and drowned her - for reasons that are still unclear.
The 52-year-old neighbour, Stephen Woodhouse, a commercial airline pilot of Old Watling Street, Long Buckby, pleaded guilty to a charge under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal, resulting in its death at Northampton Magistrates’ Court yesterday.
A Newton hearing will have to be held at Corby Magistrates’ Court on May 20 to determine the full facts of the case before he can be sentenced.
Mr Boddington said the family are struggling to come to terms with how a man they classed as a friend could drown Meg.
He said: “She was only a small dog, it’s not like she was a big loud thing that was causing a lot of noise. We never had one complaint off any of our other neighbours.
“We would have thought he would have just come and spoken to us if he had a problem.”
Mrs Boddington, said she first realised Meg had gone missing because the pet had been out in the garden on a scorching July day, but had not come in for water in a long time.
Woodhouse had initially helped in the search, she said, before it emerged that he had in fact killed the dog through drowning.
Mum-of-two Mrs Boddington, 48, said the family are still coming to terms with losing Meg.
“She was one of the only memories we had left of our daughter Lauren.” She said. There is just something missing in the house now.”
Mr Boddington said, Meg was a source of comfort for Lauren, who had severe mobility issues.
He said: “Lauren couldn’t walk or talk - we trusted Meg one million per cent with her - if Lauren ever grabbed her, Meg never showed any aggression.
She had such a lovely nature.
“If Lauren was poorly, Meg would lay by her cot. She was just a very kind sweet-natured dog.”
Woodhouse can be seen leaving Northampton Magistrates Court yesterday, with short grey hair and a dark grey suit in the video.
A Civil Aviation Authorty spokesman confirmed Woodhouse is a commercial airline pilot.
He said: “In the event a licenced pilot is convicted of an offence, which is relevant to their ability or duties, we may conduct our own enquiry and ask for further details or evidence.
“In addition, further medical and health assessments may also be required.
“Where the health or character of an individual does not meet aviation safety standards, we may suspend or revoke a pilot’s licence or medical certificate.”