LEICESTER, United Kingdom – A Scottish priest is being investigated by the police after threatening to poison a man’s dogs on a video that was circulated on Reddit.
Father Vincent Byrne of is seen outside of St. Columba’s Church in Renfrew – about 6 miles west of Glasgow – having a confrontation with a dogwalker who filmed the exchange.
The video begins with the dogwalker asking the priest if he wants to put down poison to kill dogs, and Byrne responding: “At this point, yes. I don’t know whether it’ll kill them – but it would be a good side effect.”
The man later says, “You, a priest of the Catholic Church, want to kill dogs.”
The priest responds, “Dogs are supposed to be on leads … your dog is not on a lead!” Byrne later accuses the dogwalker of “intimidating people.”
“You’re very intimidating. There’s two of you and there’s dogs out of control,” he says, and the video later shows the priest walking away, and one of the dogs chasing after him.
The beginning of the encounter was not filmed, but during the part of the exchange online, Byrne mentions that the dogwalker is on the church’s property, and allowed the dogs off their leashes on the church’s private car park.
It’s a common problem in the UK for dogwalkers to allow their animals free range on private property, and not cleaning up after them.
The priest and dogwalker then have an argument over the rights of dogwalkers and whether or not the church was properly marked as private property.
At one point, the dogwalker tells the priest, “I’m just annoyed that a so-called Christian, a so-called priest of the Catholic Church wants to kill God’s creatures. I very much doubt you are a Father with that attitude.”
Byrne, obviously frustrated, says, “Poor wee dogs – it would’ve been nice if you got to live longer.”
During the exchange, the man threatens the priest with spreading the video all over the internet.
The video was sent to the police, who are investigating whether or not any laws against animal abuse were broken.
In statement released to the Daily Record, a local newspaper, the Diocese of Paisley said they “can assure everyone that Father Byrne did not have and does not have poison nor the intention to harm dogs.”
“The initial exchanges are not on the video but the video appears to be banter, intended to be humorous, which then has escalated. Since the matter has been referred to Police Scotland we will not comment further.”
Follow Charles Collins on Twitter: @CharlesinRome