An Earlston couple were left horrified after seeing their dog viciously attacked by a foster dog from Spain, and they are now warning fellow Borderers to think twice about dealing with a rehoming charity.
Ema Drynan’s pet Turbo lost a leg in the attack by English bull terrier-cross Poppy, a rescue dog she agreed to rehome because she was told it was going to be put down otherwise.
Crucially, however, she claims that erstwhile friend Cassie Mowat, a worker for Spanish Dog Rescue, failed to disclose that Poppy had killed three cats and bitten a child while with a previous owner.
Ema, 33, who lives with husband Stuart and two children, Blake, three, and Kaitlynn, six, says she is shocked that her former pal would even consider trying to rehome Poppy in a home with children again.
She said: “Cassie told me Poppy had not settled with her previous family and she was going to be put down unless they could find her another home.
“We are all dog lovers. We have two dogs, Diesel and Turbo, who we explained to Cassie have the odd scuffle but nothing serious.
“Cassie came to our house and we asked if she had any concerns about Poppy, and she said no. We took her in in March, and it was all fine until one day Turbo happened to be lying on a blanket Poppy wanted and she went for him.
“She bit into his leg and started ragging him, as if she wanted to pull his leg off.
“We managed to pull her off him, but she just latched on again. It was a mess. There was flesh hanging, and I thought she had bitten his penis off.
“We got Turbo to the vet, who took him in. He was in for over a week, and he eventually had to have his leg removed.
“We messaged Cassie and asked her if she could find another home for Poppy, and she said no, that we were Poppy’s last chance.”
Poppy had to be put down on the advice of a vet.
Ema’s husband Stuart, 37, said: “Most of these dogs are street dogs. Poppy had learned it was fight or die in many circumstances.
“Everything seemed fine, until there was a trigger – Turbo lying on a blanket Poppy wanted Once you have got to that point, there’s no going back.”
The couple were contacted by Poppy’s previous owner and informed of the dog’s violent history.
Ema added: “I’m sure Cassie and Jenn are trying their hardest to rehome all these dogs but are not doing proper home checks or disclosing prior problems.”
The charity’s founder, Jenn Johnson, of Nairn, was featured in the national press in January this year. In that story, she said she drove 48,000 miles a year in a bid to save dogs.
We tried to contact both Jenn and Cassie, but the former didn’t return our call and the latter said she was seeking legal advice as she claimed that Ema had launched a hate campaign against the two women,
Dog behaviourist Lesley Connelly, of Dundee, who helped the couple, said Poppy had rage syndrome, a condition which cannot be cured, and should not have been rehomed.
She said: “There is no medication for this. The dog has to be put down.
“A dog can be well behaved when it is among other dogs that are more dominant, but if you take it out of that situation you have a different dog.
“After Poppy had killed cats and bitten a child when with her previous owners, nobody with an ounce of conscience could ever think of rehoming her in another home with young children. What happened was terrible, but it could have been so much worse.”
As for Turbo, he seems to have come back from his traumatic episode, albeit with one leg missing.
Ema said: “Turbo is brilliant, getting along fine. He has defied all the odds and is living his life as normally as possible, but this should never have happened. I shudder to think what could have happened if one of the children was on the blanket that Poppy wanted.
“I just want to make people aware of this charity, ask them to do research and take extra caution when thinking of taking on these dogs.
“Our outcome, albeit we now have a three-legged dog, could have been a lot worse.”