South Shields mum’s agony as late son’s pet mauled to death by a dog

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A South Tyneside mum is facing fresh heartbreak after her late son’s cat was mauled to death.

Michelle Stockdale has been left devasted after a lurcher on the loose grabbed her 11-year-old cat, Belle, and caused horrific injuries.

Michelle Stockdale with her late son, Anthony Leedham.

Michelle Stockdale with her late son, Anthony Leedham.

Belle suffered a smashed spine and puncture wounds to her chest during the incident on Sunday morning and vets had no choice but to put her down.

For Michelle, the cat was one of the last links to her son, Anthony Leedham, who died in 2009 aged just 19.

Anthony lost his battle with aplastic anaemia, a condition that occurs when the bone marrow fails to produce enough red blood cells.

The teenager needed a transplant, but was too sick to have it.

She was like my last link with Anthony

Michelle Stockdale

Michaelle, of Broad Landing, South Shields, said: “Anthony loved Belle. She became his cat really. Even when he was so very ill in hospital he would imagine that she was on the end of the bed.

“When he first died, Belle used to do strange things, like Anthony was there playing with her and teasing her, and it brought me a lot of comfort.

“She meant so much more than a cat to me, she was like my last link with Anthony.”

Belle was outside her own home in Broad Landing on Sunday morning, when the dog, believed to have got free from a house in nearby Coble Landing, grabbed her and ran off with her.

Neighbours alerted Michelle and they gave chase, but it was too late.

Michelle said the RSPCA later visited her and said they were satisfied it was an accident and that dogs do chase cats.

She said: “What if it had been a small child, the dog was obviously out of control.

“I want to warn other cat owners in the area to be really careful.

“The whole thing has been so horrible. I would have done anything to save her.”

A spokesman for the RSPCA said: “This sad incident must be extremely difficult for the cat’s owner and out thoughts are with them.

“Unfortunately, some dogs do chase cats and occasionally, tragic accidents do happen. The RSPCA offers advice on dog behaviour on the website.”