WHITE Standard Poodle who was taken in by an RSPCA shelter
after straying from his owner and was handed over to a thief
posing as the owner's relative without any proof of identification
being sought by the Manageress of the shelter has been found
and returned to his owners.
The dog, which was microchipped - twice - was not scanned at any time by staff at the centre.
'Prince' is owned (coincidentally) by Norman and Carol Prince from York. The Princes lived in Australia for many years until returning to England two years ago. Prince was microchipped twice, once in Australia and once in the UK, and also wore a collar with a name tag.
The couple were staying at a relative's house in Liverpool over the Easter weekend when their dog escaped by accident.
"He got out from my aunt's house," explained Carol Prince. "She had not dead locked the door while I took her over to ASDA, she is 85 and has trouble getting about. Prince bounced on the door handle and let himself out. A person found him wandering in the street and took him to the local police station, and they told him to go to the local RSPCA centre."
Soon after Prince was taken in at the RSPCA's Higher Road, Liverpool centre, a couple visiting the centre made a fuss of Prince. The couple said they were looking for a replacement dog and expressed an interest in Prince, However, no rehoming was being undertaken at the time, so staff at the centre took a name and address from the couple.
This later was checked and found to be false.
Shortly after Prince had been taken in, a woman telephoned the centre to say her sister's standard poodle Prince was missing. Staff told her that Prince was at the kennels and a man came to the centre and claimed him.
It was since established by Carol and Norman Prince that at no time was Prince scanned for his microchips, despite established RSPCA policy that all strays being brought to rescue centres are scanned as a matter of course.
Manageress did not ask for proof of identity of ownership
of the dog from the man who claimed him, again in breach of
Carol Prince contacted the centre herself and found out what had happened. She and her husband notified the police and were accompanied by an officer to the centre to verify what had happened.
"When I was back there later with the police I asked the Manager why she hadn't scanned Prince of checked the man's details," says Carol. "Her reply was she was in the kennels, and her three staff were too busy! She offered no apology whatsoever!"
Thankfully, Prince was found wandering by the river at Otters Pool the following day, Saturday, by young mother Jeanette Earle. Miss Earle took the dog home and fed him, finding him to be extremely hungry. A friend told her that she had seen the posters indicating that Prince was missing, so contact was duly made with Norman and Carol.
There was an emotional reunion between dog and owners after they drove back to Liverpool to collect him.
"My guess is that he was dumped when the thieves realised the police were involved - and we can only guess at how they found that out so quickly, just hours after getting Prince form the shelter and then us turning up at the shelter with the police. He looked to be in reasonable shape," Norman Prince told OUR DOGS, "but we took him to the vets just to make sure. He had a very slow heart beat and the vet kept him in for a few hours to give him blood tests. My thought was he was drugged as he did not seem too bright, not that sleepy but he welcomed us when he saw us. But slept all the way home in the car, which is unusual for him. "
Thankfully Prince has since recovered well from his ordeal and is safely home with Norman and Carol at their York home.
The couple have since written to Peter Davies, the Director General of the RSPCA to complain at the events which led to Prince being stolen from the shelter, and urging Mr Davies to investigate the matter thoroughly.
Helen Briggs, a press officer for the RSPCA told OUR DOGS: "It is very unusual for an incident like this to happen. We will be carrying out an investigation to find out what has happened and why. At this stage it would appear that a mistake has been made and our usual policy has not been followed."