A widow devastated when an animal sanctuary ‘rescued’ and sold on her missing pet dog has finally been reunited with the beloved pooch.
Desperate Liz Hiorns, 72, searched for days after 11-year-old Jack Russell Penny ran away from the family farm near Warwick.
But was stunned when she discovered a dog warden found Penny a week later and handed her in to an animal rescue centre which in turn sold her to new owners for £80.
Liz begged the animal rescue centre to tell her who Penny’s new owners were but they refused, claiming it was against data protection laws.
But Penny is finally home four weeks after she went missing when the new owners – moved by Liz’s plight – reluctantly agreed to return her.
Grandmother-of-six Liz said: ”I’m absolutely delighted, thrilled to have her home.
”The last month has been extremely stressful but I am just so relieved it is all over. I will certainly be keeping a close eye on Penny in future.
”This should never have happened and I am very angry with the local council who were too quick to palm her off onto someone else.”
Stratford District Council, which is responsible for what happens to stray dogs when they are picked up by the warden, apologised for the cock-up.
A spokesman said: ”This is the first time such an incident has happened and the district council regrets this and will use its best endeavours to ensure this does not happen again.
”Sadly, the district council picks up a number of dogs weekly and scans the dogs routinely for identification in the form of a microchip or any other distinguishing marks.
”This all helps with the process of reuniting the dog back with its rightful owner.
”Unfortunately on this occasion the missing dog, Penny, had no form of identification and was found with an eye infection covered in fleas and ticks.
”There are lessons to be learned but the council assures the public that they make all reasonable efforts to reunite stray dogs with their owners.
”The district council is currently reviewing its procedures and considering putting photographs of stray dogs on the website in the future.”
Penny, who did not have a name collar or micro-chip, went missing on April 12 after Liz let her out the back door at lunchtime.
Liz, who runs Ashorne House Farm near Warwick, searched the local area for days after Penny failed to return home but to no avail.
Two weeks later Liz called a vets in nearby Leamington Spa, Warks., to be told a dog matching Penny’s description had been found by a dog warden in Stratford-upon-Avon on April 13.
The dog was passed to Danemere Animal Rescue Centre at Tibberton, near Droitwich, Worcs., who sold Penny on for £80 to a couple living nearby just one week later.
Liz said: ”I still can’t understand how this happened. It still sends shivers up my spine that within a week Penny was sold to someone else without my knowledge.”