Impossible! Right? There is no way in the world that anyone who has ever cared for a fluff-ball of a kitten, dedicated hours to tickling the tummy of doggy, or hand-reared a batch of bouncing baby bunnies using their body-warmth, a pipette of milk and a mouthful of mashed-up carrot, could be anything less than "the most fantastic person in the world ever" - and that's a fact.
Pet people are caring, loving, warm, tender, considerate and fun. They're blessed with an endless supply of patience, a big bag of love, and hearts the size of the sun. If anything, people with pets can do no wrong. So, are cat-owners and dog-lovers... evil people? No! Of course not! But...
...although (it's highly unlikely that) cat-owners and dog-lovers could ever be evil people, isn't it also possible that evil people might be cat-owners and dog-lovers? Gulp! I'm afraid it is. In this article, Murder Mile blogs investigates the softer side to some of the world's most evil people, which was brought about by a furry friend that they simply couldn't bare to be without.
Serial Killers, Dictators, Maniacs... and Their Beloved Pets
This is "Bleep"; the faithful, loyal and always loving Border Collie cross of serial killer Dennis Nilsen. Purchased as a puppy in a pet shop on Kilburn High Road by "Twinkle" Nilsen's lover, who he'd met barely a few weeks earlier at The Champion in Bayswater (as seen in my blog on London's Deadliest Pubs), and named "Bleep" as her muted barks as a puppy sounded more like a high-pitched squeak.
"Bleep" was the last victim of serial killer Dennis Nilsen. What? Did Nilsen kill "Bleep"? No, of course he didn't. Nilsen adored "Bleep"; he fed her, brushed her, bathed her, and the two would take long walks together on Hampstead Heath. Bleep was his best-friend, his closest companion, and - in Nilsen's eyes - the only one who truly loved him.
But in 1978, after a few volatile months together, "Twinkle" walked out, causing the jealously spurned Nilsen to spiral out of control, killing fifteen young men in just five years. "I wanted to stop sooner", Nilsen once said, but after he'd murdered his second victim - Kenneth Ockenden - he knew he'd be locked up for life, and his main concern was "if I'm put away, what would happen to Bleep?".
Unfortunately, Nilsen's concerns were proved right. Three days after he was imprisoned for the murder of six men and the attempted murder of two others, "Bleep" was put to death by lethal injection. Her only crime? Being a faithful, loyal and loving dog... of a serial killer.
And yet, unlike many serial killers, Nilsen - having grown up in the coastal village of Fraserburgh (Scotland) - had a true affinity to animals, so much so that during the midst of his killing spree between 1978-83 he found an injured sparrow outside the job centre he worked at on Denmark Street. Knowing the bird wouldn’t survive without his help, Nilsen constructed a makeshift nest in his office drawer, and over the next week brought the bird back to full-strength with water, warmth and by feeding it the meat from mashed up fish-fingers which he himself masticated in his own mouth, almost like its mother.
This is Puppet, the faithful dog of child killers Myra Hindley & Ian Brady, dubbed “The Moors Murderers”, who they’d take with them on walks across the moors to revisit the grave-sites of the children they’re murdered, although whether Puppet was with Hindley & Brady during their crimes is unknown. After their arrest, Puppet apparently “died under anaesthetic” (just like Nilsen’s dog Bleep). In a letter to her mother about the death of her dog, a tearful Hindley wrote “it hurts too much to even think about Puppet without crying”*. Again, another innocent victim, whose only crime was that the Police didn’t think that someone would want to rehome the pampered pooch of a notorious serial killer.
* as with Nilsen, it’s ironic given her lack of compassion for her victims or their families
Of course, this unusually caring affinity, deep-seated sense of loyalty, and unconditional love for a pet is not uncommon in many of the world’s most loathed monsters, whether a compassion-less mass-murderers, cruellest despots or ruthless dictators:
As a child, serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer adored his Spaniel cross named Frisky, as being a shy, timid and lonely boy, his dog was often his “only friend” according to his father. And yet, Dahmer would happily impale the heads of other dogs he’d found as rock-kill on a stick to scare the neighbours.
Libyan dictator General Gaddafi had a personal herd of over 500 ostriches, and a “sweet-smelling” camel who always travelled with him, even when he set up camp on the front lawn of Trump Tower (New York). Oddly, for such an animal lover, Gaddafi’s two favourite foods were “camel stew” and “roast ostrich”. Read about this in my earlier blog - Powerful People and their Odd Diets.
North Korean despot Kim Jong-Un, although a recent hoax claimed that he fed his uncle to a pack of 125 wild dogs, Jong-Un is a collector of French & Swizz pedigree dogs, who he lavishes with expensive dog food, shampoos, toys and tasty treats. Oddly (just like Gaddafi), one of Kim Jong-Un favourite delicacies… is dog stew.
Sadly, I couldn't find a photo of Jong-Un's doggies, so here's a picture of him bare-back riding a pig. It's probably fake, but it's funny.
And then of course, no article about “pet lovers… who were also evil” would be complete without a dip into the demonic, deranged and deluded world of that Jew-hating, power-hungry, one-balled Nazi nincompoop – Adolf Hitler. Everyone knows about Hitler’s love for “Blondi” his gorgeous German Shepherd. But did you know that almost every year of his adult life, until the day he died, Hitler always had a dog who he loved unconditionally.
There was “Muckl”, another German Shepherd, who very little is known. Prior to “Blondi”, Hitler had two further German Shepherds, “Blonda” (the mother, born in 1928) and “Blonda” (her daughter, born in 1930). Who says he had a poor imagination? Next, “Bella” was brought from a minor official in the Ingolstadt post-office (the nearest town to his countryside retreat dubbed The Wolf’s Lair) in 1942 to keep his other dogs company. And, of course, there was...
...“Blondi”. But on 29th April 1945, as Hitler was informed of the death of Mussolini, and with the Soviets closing in on Berlin, Hitler decided to take his own life. Fearing that his SS-issued cyanide capsules lacked the necessary potency, he ordered Dr Werner Haase to test them on Blondi, who died instantly. After which, Hitler became inconsolable at the death of his beloved dog. Following Hitler’s suicide and at Hitler’s request, fearing what might happen to his dogs in Soviet hands, Hitler's dog-handler Feldwebel Fritz Tornow shot Eva Braun’s two dogs, his own, and Blondi’s litter of puppies in the garden of that infamous bunker.
Isn’t it odd how these "monstrous" people have very little compassion for the people whose lives they've ruined, and yet they are entirely distraught at the idea of the suffering of their own pets? But then again, no matter how evil someone might be, a pet person is always a pet person.
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a writer, crime historian and tour-guide who runs Murder Mile Walks, a guided tour of Soho’s most notorious murder cases, hailed as “one of the top ten quirky & unusual things to do in London” and featuring 18 murderers, 3 serial killers, across 21 locations, totalling 75 deaths, over just a one mile walk.
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a crime historian, writer and tour guide of Murder Mile Walks.