Volunteer left ‘heartbroken’ after dog memorial garden has items stolen

A HEARTBROKEN volunteer who has selflessly created a beautiful memorial garden for lost and stray dogs has been left devastated after repeated attacks from vandals and thieves.

Monday, 17th June 2019, 4:53 pm
Updated Thursday, 5th March 2020, 6:07 pm
Flowers and trees at the dog memorial

Diane Niedzielski, 62, says her ‘labour of love’ that took six years to create has been damaged by callous vandals who repeatedly target the memorial garden behind Portsmouth Stray Dog Kennels at Great Salterns Farm.

The latest act of crime at the location last month saw a £60 sunflower plaque stolen from a fence after thieves went to great lengths to remove the item after climbing a ladder.

North End resident, Diane, who transformed the former overgrown derelict location after hours of work to get it up and running, said: ‘Dog walkers, pensioners and people who love dogs donated towards the memorial garden for a sunflower plaque which was put up on the fence.

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‘But after less than four weeks this had been stolen by thieves. They went to great efforts to get it out. It’s just strange why someone would want to do such a thing.

‘This has caused a lot of heartbreak to all the people who have invested in the memorial garden. We need to locate this plaque and stop these people vandalising the area. The vandals are basically trashing a graveyard for dogs – it’s disgraceful.

‘People donate plants, seeds or trees to the garden normally. Last year we had donated plants stolen. But this latest act of vandalism is the worst.

‘Many of the people who donate to the memorial garden have lost a dog so it is very upsetting for them and for me. Hopefully we can find the sunflower memorial plaque which means a lot to all the people who have donated. If anyone knows anything or sees it anywhere we would be grateful if they could get in touch.’

Diane, who has been a volunteer for 19 years, added: ‘I created the memorial garden for people who have no outside space. It was back-breaking work to get the place up and running with hours spent digging, putting up fences and putting plants in because it was so overgrown,’ she said. ‘We just want people to respect the garden.’