Hartlepool dog owners 'hand in pets as strays'

Dog owners in Hartlepool have been warned that they could face prosecution if they are caught abusing the local dog warden service.

Hartlepool Council says it is concerned that some owners are attempting to get rid of their pets by falsely handing them in as strays.

"Most cases are difficult to prove because the dogs in question are not micro-chipped or their chips contain the details of a previous owner.

"Nevertheless, when we arrive to pick up some dogs it is pretty obvious that they are being taken from their owners and not random people they have only just met."

– Kate Ainger, Environmental Projects officer, Hartlepool Council

Ms Ainger said there had been two recent cases where wardens had been able to prove without question that the dogs being handed in were not strays.

"One dog had its microchip registered to the address of the 'finder'. Consequently, we refused to take the dog and gave the owner a warning,"

"In the second case, the dog was collected by the dog warden in good faith but we were later made aware that the 'finder' was again the dog's real owner.

"The dog has been re-homed and we are pursuing all costs relating to its collection, kennelling, and re-homing from the owner.

"We want people to be aware that we are actively on the look-out for people abusing our dog warden service and where fraud is identified we will take action to recoup any costs incurred.

"We may even report the owner to the police for fraud and to the RSPCA for abandonment of an animal, both of which could result in criminal prosecution."

– Kate Ainger, Environmental Projects officer, Hartlepool Council