A dog owner, who “died of a broken heart” after his German Shepherd was put down, bequeathed nearly £400,000 to an RSPCA centre near Potters

Kevin Johnson, 59, died of a heart attack in February, two months after Chelsea, the German Shepherd he adopted from RSPCA Southridge, had to be put to sleep following a stroke.

He left the Packhorse Lane animal centre’s Friends of RSPCA Southridge £364,000 – his entire estate and savings – in memory of his beloved dog.

Mr Johnson’s aunt Myfanwy Gillham, said: “Kevin was devastated at losing Chelsea.

“He lost heart.”

Terry Pavey, chairman of the Friends said: ‘Words cannot express enough our gratitude to Kevin for leaving us this staggering inheritance.

“It will do so much good, notably safeguarding our fostering scheme for years to come.”

He left the Friends the money from the sale of his property in Puckeridge, and cash, totalling in all £364,568.68.

He always liked German Shepherds, having Alsatians called Max and Heidi before adopting Chelsea.

Mrs Gilham, 90, said: “His mother, my sister, had died and Kevin said as he now had more time because he didn’t have mum to look after he would get another Shepherd.

“We came to Southridge on the off chance of finding one and immediately spotted Chelsea.

“They bonded straight away from the very first meeting.

“Kevin was a wholesale nurseryman, growing alpine plants.

“Chelsea was always with him, playing all day at the garden nursery.

“He never went anywhere without her.

“And then, one terrible morning, he came downstairs and found Chelsea collapsed.

“She couldn’t stand.

“The chap from the pub over the road came over and he and Kevin took her straight to the vet, but nothing could be done and she was put to sleep,” said Mrs Gilham.

She added: “Kevin was devastated. He lost heart.

“He started letting his business go.

“It was all totally unexpected when Chelsea had the stroke because she was always such a lively dog.

“Two months later he had a heart attack – it could have been a broken heart.”

A new dog agility and play area at Southridge will be dedicated to the memory of Kevin Johnson and Chelsea and a plaque will be installed.

WH Times

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