A man has been left devastated after his dog was accidentally re-homed when he went into hospital overnight.Richard Howard, 30, suffered a mental health episode at his home in Middleton, Manchester, on April 6 and called the police for assistance. He was treated for seven hours overnight and officers took his dog Alfie, a border collie, to PetMedics, where he was checked over and his microchip was scanned. As the dog was registered to Richard’s ex partner, she was then contacted and asked what she would like to happen to him.
She allegedly then requested that Alfie be put up for adoption – despite Richard’s current partner Kate being in a position to look after him.
When Richard returned home from hospital the next day at 10am, he was shocked to find his beloved pet missing – and nobody able to offer him an explanation as to where he had gone.Since then, he has been fighting to get Alfie back, stating that life without him has caused his mental health to decline.
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‘It’s been really difficult without him and I’ve never had this much time away from him. It’s not just me but also my partner and her son.
‘After I left hospital I kept ringing the police up and asking where he was and when could I come and get him.
‘Then finally, after numerous complaints we put in, we got a phone call from the inspector asking us: Did we know that Alfie had been re-homed? I was shocked.’
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Richard said his ex partner, who he claims hasn’t seen the dog in three years, previously told him she had changed the information in his microchip.
He still has no idea where Alfie is and worries about whether he is happy and healthy.The family were later stunned to find discover the advert for Alfie’s adoption put up by Leigh Dogs and Cats Home on April 8, just two days after Richard was taken into hospital. It stated that Alfie’s owner had passed away and described him as a ‘nervous dog’ who ‘may have been mistreated in the past’.
The advert also said the dog would not be re-homed with young children, something Kate found particularly odd as he is used to being around her son, nine.
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She said: ‘Alfie can be a bit timid something but that’s just in the breed.’Girl, 6, injected with needle hidden between two bus seats
Kate, who is pregnant, added that she has had to go to hospital twice due to the stress of trying to find Alfie.
She said the family have now been advised that the only way to get their dog back is by taking their case to court.
Inspector Graham Cooke from Greater Manchester Police’s Rochdale Borough said: ‘On Monday April 6, police supported medical professionals during an incident in the Middleton area.
‘A 30 year old man was taken to hospital and the man’s dog was left with police. Due to no one else being in a position to care for the dog, an animal welfare provider was contacted.
‘As is policy, the dog was checked over and the registered keeper, according to the dog’s microchip, was contacted in order for the dog to be taken care of.
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‘The registered owner requested that the dog be put up for adoption so her instructions were followed.
‘Unfortunately it appears to have been against the wishes of the man, who was no longer in contact with the registered owner and had taken guardianship of the dog.
‘The dog was re-homed shortly after its arrival at the shelter.‘We have spoken at length to the owner of the dog, and as much as we wish the situation could be rectified happily, unfortunately there are no legal powers available to Greater Manchester Police for us to get the dog back.
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‘We have advised the man of his options going forward. We apologise for the upset this situation has caused.’
In a statement, Leigh Dogs and Cats home said: ‘We received a border collie for private boarding from GMP.Dominic Raab refuses to rule out suspending Parliament to secure Brexit
‘The next day we received an email from GMP requesting for us to find a suitable new home for the dog. Attached to the email was an email from the registered keeper of the dog also requesting that we find him a new home.
‘Consequently, the dog was health checked by a veterinary surgeon and placed for adoption. We found him a new home, which we feel fulfils the needs of this breed of dog.
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‘We have been asked informally to supply the details of the new owner, but because of data protection are legally constrained from doing so.’You can support the campaign to Bring Alfie Home here.