A COMMUNITY has united in support of an elderly man who has had his beloved pet dogs taken away.
A crowd of villagers and residents gathered last Monday evening as the RSPCA, West Mercia Police and Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service were called to the home of John Spicer, of Old Whittington Road, Gobowen to remove his two dogs following reports at least one of them was in a poor state.
His friends claim the former vet, an eccentric character who is well-known and liked around the village, loved his animals dearly but admitted the older of the two sheep dogs needed help.
Mr Spicer was arrested on suspicion of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal, known as Pup, which has since been destroyed on welfare grounds. The other is still in RSPCA care.
Concerned neighbour Mark Breeze said Mr Spicer was bereft without them.
“It’s very sad it came to this, he really loves those animals and believes he’s doing the best by them.”
Some villagers were outraged by what they saw as the “excessive” size of the operation, which involved two RSPCA officers in two separate vans, backed by a police sergeant and constable as well as firefighters who looked for Mr Spicer through windows before forcing entry.
Another PC and two PCSOs attended later.
But a spokesman for the RSPCA claimed the action was necessary to safeguard the animals.
“We had received a number of calls from people concerned about the poor welfare of a dog at this property and had recently been told that the condition of this dog was deteriorating.
“We will always attempt to work with owners to safeguard the welfare of their animals where this is possible and our officers had made attempts to get in touch with this owner on a number of occasions.
“Two RSPCA officers attended in separate vans as we had to remove two dogs and they needed to travel separately.
“We would refute any claims that the man was not treated with respect and there was no undue force.
“The RSPCA did not go in to the property and is unable to remove animals without police assistance,” they added.
Meanwhile, Mr Breeze said the outpouring of support for Mr Spicer has been overwhelming and added: “So many people have been asking me how he’s been getting on since, people I’ve never even spoke to before but obviously knew him from his dog-walking route.”
Friends Malcolm and Carol Cheetham described Mr Spicer as an “independent, intelligent and educated” man and claimed the village was “up in arms” about his loss.
“He still has people bringing their pets to him and he tries to help – it’s his life.
“When he was released by the police he said: ‘I don’t know how I’m going to live without my dogs’.
“It’s so sad,” they added.
And local business woman Beccy Russell, of The Sandwich Bar, said she felt deeply for Mr Spicer.
“He’s a lovely man and is really popular. It’s sad about his dog but I think he just needed a bit of help.”