The parents of a young Ardee-based family who have been left devastated by a callous attack on their family home which left one dog missing, another injured and a pet duck killed have spoken out about their ordeal.
Darren Mac Neill and his partner Karen returned home to their property in Tullykeel, Churchtown Ardee last Thursday to find their two dogs, purebred Cupcake and Blackjack, were gone. Further inspection in the home led to the grim discovery of their pet duck. The culprits had broke her neck.
Darren and Karen are both originally from Dublin but live just north of Ardee with their three children – Cole (9), Tadgh (6) and their one-year-old sister Sophia. Darren currently plays soccer for local club Square United.
Speaking to the media on Monday, Darren said he was immediately concerned something was amiss when he and the family returned home from work on Thursday evening. “It’s very much like feeding time at the zoo when I get home – the dogs and duck will always come rushing to the gate, and the cat, too,” he said.
“The first thing I did was go and search for the dogs down in the field behind our house. Then when I came back I found Karen crying and the kids very upset as they had discovered the duck,” he continued. Six-year-old Tadgh had found the duck.
“She was a very noisy duck and always very flappy when someone came to the gate, so I can only speculate that whoever did this gave her a few kicks or something to keep her quiet.
After discovering the duck had been killed, the family grew more worried about the dogs whereabouts and it soon became apparent they had been taken. Cupcake is a French Bulldog and worth €3,000. She was taken along with Blackjack, a small Jack Russell Terrier, in the raid on the home. Cupcake had been locked safely indoors due to the recent hot weather while Blackjack was outside.
“We’re obviously very angry at the people who did this, but we’re trying to take a different approach with the kids, and say that the duck must just have got a fright,” Darren said.
“We’re just really worried about how Cupcake must be being treated, given the way they treated the duck.”
Darren gave the Ardee Gardai a statement on Thursday and on Friday evening, Blackjack was found injured a number of miles from the property by a neighbour. According to Darren and his partner Karen, who spoke to LMFM’s Late Lunch today, the thieves broke in through the new extension to the house which is under construction but water tight.
Given Cupcake’s value and the fact that no other valuables in the house were taken, it is clear the those responsible were targeting Cupcake specifically. It appears they initially took Blackjack but soon dispensed with her.
“They were obviously just there for the pets,” Darren said. “Cupcake is a very expensive breed, worth about €3000 – but she’s also a much-loved family pet and we’re willing to pay to get her back or for any information on her whereabouts.
“Even my youngest one is very astute – she can’t even say Cupcake’s name yet, but she knows something is not right, and keeps asking about her ‘bow-wow’. She was delighted when we got Blackjack back – she’s been all over him. It’s given us hope for Cupcake coming back, too.’
“I don’t think they wanted Blackjack in any way. I think they took him for making noise. He would be territorial and barking. He’d let you know he was there and he’d let us know if anyone was ever round,” Karen told Late Lunch today.
“He’s doing well anyway but we think he was thrown from a car. Our six-year-old is absolutely devastated. He cried himself to sleep. We had to get Guards to tell him they were sitting outside our garden all night to get him into bed.
“The kids come home every evening and they have a dog each they look after. They have a horse up the back and the duck. They arrived back on Thursday and it was like a horror story, they didn’t know what was going on.”
As of yet, the appeals are yet to yield any information on what happened to Cupcake. You can follow the Facebook page Help Find Cupcake for more information. A reward is being offered for her return. If you know anything, have been offered a dog for sale or saw anything suspicious on Thursday morning last in the Tullykeel area, please contact 085 125 8755.