POLICE cordoned off a street to recapture an escaped "prisoner" - a 13-week-old puppy. Owner Atilla Danics snatched Matyi the Bolognese pup from quarantine kennels 24 hours after he was forced to hand him over. Up to eight officers in four patrol cars then swooped on Atilla's home to get the dog back.
One amazed neighbour said yesterday: "It seemed absolute overkill. All that fuss for a puppy was unbelievable. It was an utter waste of police time."
Hungarian Atilla, 37, and his wife Andrea had been given Matyi on a visit home for Andrea's 30th birthday. But after they arrived home in Bonnyrigg, Midlothian, they were told they had breached quarantine laws.
The dog was taken and placed in quarantine kennels near Longniddry in East Lothian. Atilla said he went to the kennels the next day and was distressed to find Matyi upset.
He said: "He was stressed and shaking and he came flying towards me.
"In the end, I gave the woman there a card and told her to call the Hungarian Embassy. I left with him and brought him home."
Just an hour later, police were at the door.
Painter and decorator Atilla added: "There was a police car in the street and another two closing it off. There were police everywhere."
The dog was seized and Atilla taken to Dalkeith police station and kept in custody over the weekend before being released. Atilla is due to appear at Haddington Sheriff Court to face charges over the dog's removal from the kennels.
The couple said they believed the vet in Hungary had organised a pet passport. But after they took him to register with a vet in Midlothian, police and council officials turned up and the pup was taken away to the kennels. After Matyi was seized for the second time, the couple were given the choice of having him put down or sending him back to Hungary. He was flown back and Andrea said tearfully yesterday: "He landed alone with no toys or anything to play with. I am scared he will forget me."
Quarantine regulations in the UK require a pet to have lived in a country for six months before it can be considered for a pet passport and approved for entry to the UK.