It was a quiet Monday evening in March 2016, the quietest of the last few days in the life of the owners of Paddy and her three-year-old golden retriever companion, Roxy.
The couple had just bought their new house in the seaside town of Cavan, in the Republic of Ireland, where they were looking to take the dogs out for a walk.
The dogs, which had never been out of the family’s property before, were well behaved and playful, and Roxy loved to play.
On Monday, though, something went wrong, and a couple of stray dogs attacked Roxy and seriously injured her.
“It’s not the first time this has happened,” Paddy said, “but this time it’s been much worse.”
The couple were lucky to escape with only minor injuries, as Roxy was rushed to the local hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Her family had hoped to take her home and raise her as their own.
But as soon as they got home, things got really bad.
“We called the police,” Paddle explained, “because we had to leave Roxy on the side of the road, because we had nowhere else to go, and there were dogs on the road.”
And there were people around, so I knew it was time to get rid of her.
“I said, ‘What are you doing?’
And they said, [that’s] what you should do’.”
In the weeks after Roxy’s death, her family decided to keep Roxy as their pet, despite the fact that she had not been adopted.
“She was our pet,” Paddys brother, Tom, said.
“She was a bit like a son to us, so we wanted to keep her.
And we didn’t want to take away that opportunity to give her to somebody else.”
Roxy was not alone.
Across the country, dogs were being killed at an alarming rate, as owners faced mounting pressures to get their pets out of homes and onto the streets.
In Ireland, in 2017, more than 6,000 dogs were killed or severely injured.
According to the Irish Dog Board, that’s more than twice the number killed in the UK and nearly a third of all dogs killed in Ireland.
“The fact that there are so many dogs being killed in this country is a disgrace,” said the board’s director, Patrick Murphy, who added that the number of dogs in Ireland being shot and killed was on the rise.
“This is the most serious issue in Ireland, and the main cause is the fear of being seen as a ‘bad dog’ by neighbours and neighbours’ neighbours.”
You could be in a pub, and someone could be going up to your dog and saying, ‘Oh, I don’t want your dog,’ or ‘I don’t like your dog.’
“If you’ve got two dogs in a car, that could happen to a family, and they could take them off you and put them on the ground.”
As a result, it is estimated that up to one in six dogs killed each year in Ireland is abandoned.
This year alone, Ireland reported 586 dog-related deaths, with more than 500 dogs injured.
And as dog owners face a bleak future, there are measures in place to help.
In the United States, the United Kennel Club (UKC) is offering free obedience classes to owners of “high-risk” dogs.
In New Zealand, a campaign called ‘Don’t Kill’ has been launched to get owners of dogs with physical or behavioural problems to adopt them.
In England, a dog-friendly park is currently in operation in the town of St James’s Park, in Wiltshire, which aims to keep dogs away from dangerous people.
“There are lots of steps you can take,” said Simon Collins, a volunteer who runs the St James Park Project, “to reduce the number and severity of dog attacks in the area.”
Collins said that a good way to reduce the problem was for people to adopt their dogs.
“What’s good about the dog-friendliness campaign is that it’s a community initiative, and it’s also about getting people to realise they have a role to play in this problem,” he said.
“They’re not just a problem for the dog.
They’re a problem that’s been caused by our culture, our way of life and the way we interact with our pets.”
When people have a dog, they are part of our community, they’re part of the fabric of our communities, and hopefully that’s something that will encourage us to adopt more dogs.
“In the Irish Republic, there has also been a push to raise awareness about the dangers of irresponsible dog owners.
The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) launched an ‘Evolving Dog Welfare Strategy’ last year, and aims to reduce dog attacks and dog bites by 2020.The