Author reveals agony of losing pet collie after vicious attack

Natalie Agnew
Natalie Agnew

It was a tale of depraved animal cruelty that gripped Northern Ireland.

Three years ago, in 2012, family pet border collie Cody was soaked in flammable lighter fluid and set on fire outside her Maghaberry Road home in Co Antrim.

The three-year-old collie had to be put down due to her injuries days later.

Next week Cody’s owner, Natalie Agnew will launch her book – Justice for Cody: The End was just the Beginning – at Stormont, in which she reveals a powerful and moving account of her family’s experience through the heartbreak and campaigns for stiffer custodial sentences for those convicted of animal cruelty.

TV personality and animal lover Paul O’Grady has lent his support to the book by writing the foreword.

A chapter is also written by Steven Agnew, leader of the Green Party, as he joins forces with Mrs Agnew to help bring about Cody’s Law through Stormont.

Mrs Agnew said the book is “emotional and straight from the heart”.

The 38-year-old mother-of-two said the process of writing “helped me cope with how horrendous this was and I don’t think otherwise I would have been able to come to terms with it”.

“I just throw all my emotions now into fundraising and keeping her memory alive and making sure no-one forgets her.”

Mrs Agnew said neither of her sons – nine-year-old Jake and 13-year-old Justin – have read the book as “it is too much for them”.

“I think only now we are getting back to some normality,” she added. “We have (two dogs) CJ and Rex now and getting them filled a gap but did not replace Cody.”

Remembering how Cody’s attack rocked the Province, Mrs Agnew said she is now hoping to see tougher sentences imposed for animal cruelty.

In October 2014 Andrew Richard Stewart, 23, from Wellington Parks, Maghaberry, was jailed for 10 months and given a further 10 months on licence after he admitted animal cruelty.

Jamie Downey, 23, of Meadowfield Court, Aghalee, was also given a six-month term, half of which will be spent in prison, for perverting the course of justice.