Veteran politician Lord Heseltine has made the startling revelation he strangled his mother’s beloved pet dog to death.
Edwardes put a rumour that Lord Heseltine had strangled a dog with his bare hands because it had attacked a child to the Tory grandee, who replied: “Ah! I can tell you what that was!
“That was my mother’s Alsatian, Kim. I went to stroke him and he started biting me, here and here (gesturing at his hands).”
“If you have a dog that turns, you just cannot risk it. So I took Kim’s collar – a sort of choker chain – and pulled it tight. Suddenly he went limp.
“I was devoted to Kim, but he’d obviously had some sort of mental breakdown. There was no choice.”
“Beautiful dog,” murmured his wife, Lady Heseltine, adding: “Huge with a great thick coat.”
A spokesman for animal welfare charity the RSPCA told Huffington Post UK it was only able to investigate and prosecute summary-only offences - like those under the Animal Welfare Act - within three years of the alleged offence being committed and are thus unable to look any further into the matter.
She added: “The RSPCA would never condone an owner killing their dog themselves in this way. If a dog needs to be put to sleep then a qualified vet is the right person to euthanise an animal humanely and painlessly, not the dog’s owner.
“There is no rule that says a dog should automatically be put to sleep if it bites someone. If you are concerned about your dog’s behaviour, the RSPCA would advise that you seek expert advice.
“It is important to get your pet checked by a vet as the dog may have become aggressive due to being in pain. If a vet rules out any form of illness or injury that could be causing the issue, they can then refer you to a behaviour expert for further help.”
Lord Heseltine’s “mercy killings” are not just limited to dogs, however.
In a column for The Spectator last month, the 83-year-old wrote of his anguish over the presence of grey squirrels at his 70-acre home in Northamptonshire.
Though agonising over their reluctance to “indulge in wanton killing”, the Heseltines determined the damage to trees and nesting boxes on the estate worthy of hiring two expert keepers who shot and trapped more than 400 squirrels over the course of nine months.
Lord Heseltine claims to have written to the RSPB magazine to report his cull and to urge the charity for more support to save the red squirrel and protect the bird population.
Complaining his letter was not published, he wrote once more, revealing: “This solicited a reply but no publication.
“The position of the RSPB appears to be to do nothing that could provoke hostility from its donors. They don’t want to upset an elderly group of people who have a Walt Disney view of the countryside.”
Grey squirrels carry a pox virus which is deadly to red squirrels, which were once common but are now extinct in many areas of the country.
There are only around 140,000 red squirrels left in Britain, mainly in northern England, but there are thought to be more than 2.5 million greys, according to the Forestry Commission.
The grey squirrel was first brought over from America in 1876. It is also “extremely destructive” in woodlands, stripping the bark from trees and causing a “major impact” on woodland conservation, biodiversity and sustainability.
They cause an estimated £10 million a year in damage to trees, the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) said.