I watched, helpless, as a vicious Staffie ripped up my children’s guinea pigs

I’m sorry to have to break the news so brutally but there’s no other way: Pickles Deathclaw and Lily Scampers are no more. They are ex-guinea pigs. They have ceased to exist. And all because of one of those bastard, evil dogs you see everywhere these days attached to the arms — or, more worryingly, not attached to the arms — of the nation’s hooded underclass yoof. We were sitting in the kitchen having lunch when it happened. ‘What’s that noise?’ I said. Already I was on my feet and heading for the garden, fearing the very worst because I had been here two months before.

On that previous occasion it had been our beloved old cat Beetle who’d gone for a Burton — hunted down and deliberately killed by a member of a vicious South London gang whose specialities, besides stabbing and drug-dealing, include cat assassination. Hearing a yapping commotion in our garden (which is surrounded by a 10ft trellis), I’d arrived just in time to see Beetle being tossed in the air and having his neck broken by the muscular, tan-coloured cur. The dog, I learned later from the police, had been put deliberately over our wall. Beetle was at least the third neighbourhood cat to have been got in this way.

So when I entered the garden I pretty much knew what to expect. Yes. Sure enough: carnage. Pickles Deathclaw was already dead at that point; Lily was about to be got (their outdoor run had been overturned) and I just wasn’t feeling quite suicidal enough (that would come later) to place myself between her and the jaws of her ravening Staffordshire-terrier-style assassin. Instead, I stood, helpless, just as I had when Beetle died, going ‘Noo! You bastard! Nooo!’

By now a face had appeared at our garden wall. ‘Here, boy. Here!’ called the youth: black, teenaged, hooded, as all the devil-dog-owners are round our part of Sarf London. And I yelled at him: ‘What the f*** is your f***ing dog doing in my f***ing garden killing my kids’ f***ing guinea pigs?’ To be fair he looked almost as upset as I was. ‘It’s not me, man. It’s my dog,’ he said. ‘He won’t come. How do I make him come?’

After that it’s a bit of a blur. Kids crying. Wife fuming. Me going right up to the hoodie’s face to tell him exactly what a s*** I thought he was. Dog bounding nonchalantly over the fence. Hoodie disappearing. Me saying: ‘The camera. Where’s the f***ing camera?’, finding it and, before wife could stop me, tracking down the hoodie via sundry concrete walkways and dingy alleyways to his housing estate.

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