Case of dead cat found in council freezer raised in Parliament during calls for change in the law
Controversy over a dead cat found in a council freezer in Sunderland has been raised in the corridors of power.
The case of Toby the cat was highlighted in the House of Commons as part of calls for a change in the law relating to deceased pets collected by council teams.
Toby was found in a freezer at a Sunderland City Council depot after his owner learned of his fate from a neighbour.
MP Martyn Day told Parliament of the case as he presented a petition with 107,062 signatures calling for a new ‘Gizmo’s legacy’ law – named after a cat whose owner faced similar circumstances – which would see the compulsory microchip scanning of all cats that injured or killed in road traffic accidents and are collected by councils.
Mr Day, an SNP MP, said: “(Anita) learned from a neighbour that her cat Toby had been collected by cleansing services.
“She then contacted the council and was invited to Sunderland council’s depot to see if Toby was in its freezer.
“Anita recognised her cat from his collar. She asked why her cat had not been scanned and the excuse she was given was that they did not have a scanner on them.
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“Why does the council state that its workers will scan animals they pick up? As I said, they should all have scanners, given the requirement for dogs. The council was not following its own policy.
He said Anita Short would have never known Toby had been collected was not for her neighbour, and relying on best practice is meaningless if policies are not strictly followed, which is why Gizmo’s law needs to be implemented.
David Rutley, an assistant whip, said he would speak to the relevant Minister at the Department for Transport to explore what can be done.
In a statement after the debate, Sunderland City Council said: “The council does collect dead animals found on public roads, pavements and public open spaces.
“We have a microchip reader for the identification of pets, and when possible we will identify the pet and contact the owner.
“On this occasion, the pet had not been scanned for a microchip before it was identified by its owner.”