A WHITE Standard Poodle who was taken in by an RSPCA shelter after straying form his owner was handed over to a thief posing as the owners relative without any proof of identification being sought by the Manageress of the shelter, writes Nick Mays. The dog, which was microchipped - twice - was not scanned at any time by staff at the centre.
Since Crufts was won by a stunning white Standard Poodle, all such dogs are in heavy demand, which may have led to thieves seeking out just such a dog. The Poodle in question, named Prince is owned (coincidentally) by Norman and Carol Prince from York. The Princes lived in Australia until returning to England two years ago. Prince was microchipped twice, one in Australia and once in the UK, and also wore a collar with a name tag.
The couple were staying at a relatives house in Liverpool over the Easter weekend when their dog escaped by accident.
He got out from my aunts 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.
Carol then pieced together a shocking sequence of events which followed.
The person who found Prince was followed into the RSPCAs Higher Road, Liverpool centre by another couple who made a fuss of Prince. The centre was closed over Easter except for strays and their owners to claim them. 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 form the couple. This later was checked and found to be false.
It seems that they read all the details off Princes dog collar, says Carol. We have since be told we should never put the dogs name on the collar. But we didnt know this!
Shortly after Prince had been taken in, a woman telephoned the centre to say her sisters 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.
The Manageress did not ask for proof of identity of ownership of the dog from the man who claimed him, again in breach of RSPCA protocols..
Carol 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 hadnt scanned Prince of checked the mans details, says Carol. Her reply was she was in the kennels, and her three staff were too busy! She offered no apology whatsoever, and now we are desperately trying to trace Prince who may well have been sold as a top pedigree dog for all we know.
I have been told that this sort of thing was happening at this Branch last year with pedigree dogs going missing! It strikes us that criminals are using RSPCA branches where they are known to have no security checks.
We will be contacting a lawyer about this - the police advised us to do so - but we want our dog back!
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. We will try our best to put the situation right and return the dog to its rightful owners.
If anyone has any information leading to the safe recovery of Prince, who weighs just over 65 lb, please contact PC Ainsworth at Halewood Police Station, Liverpool on: 0151-777 6446, or contact Norman and Carol Prince on: 01904-784333 or mobile number 07939-118812.