A ROW has broken out between a dog owner and a vets after a cherished pet was put down hours after it escaped from its family home.
Kerri Lawson was left frantic after her Labrador, Homer, sneaked out of the garden of the family home in Sulgrave, Washington.
However, as the 18-year-old launched a desperate search for her beloved pet, little did she know the 16-year-old canine had been found by a member of the public and taken to a veterinary surgery.
Within 24 hours, her pet had been put to sleep.
Kerri says Cestria Vets, in Chester-le-Street, could have tried to inform her that Homer had been handed in, but bosses say the animal was terminally unwell and had to be put down hours after being taken in.
“They should have waited longer than that,” said Kerri.
“Homer did have a few health problems, but he was not as bad as the vet said he was.
“They should have contacted the dog warden at the council to tell them he had been handed in.
“They could have waited. That way, we would have known he had been found – we would have had a point of contact.
“We had no way of knowing he’d been taken to the vets.
“They shouldn’t have just gone ahead and done this without our say-so.”
The student at Newcastle Sixth Form College said the woman who discovered Homer – who was not microchipped or wearing a collar, but had a distinctive docked tail, cauliflower ear and dragged his back leg – contacted the vets after he became agitated.
By coincidence, the dog, who suffered from arthritis in his back legs after being injured in an accident 12 years ago, had been treated at the vets in recent years.
“The problems were known to the vet and they said it was completely fine and there was no need to worry.”
She said they carried out an examination and decided to put him down.
Kerri said she only discovered Homer had been found after the woman who picked him up noticed an appeal on Facebook.
A spokeswoman for Cestria Vets said practice staff always take their responsibilities to animals brought in to the surgery “very seriously”.
“Our obligation to stray animals is to provide such emergency treatment and pain relief as is appropriate and we treat many strays each year, before either successfully reuniting them with their owners, or passing them on to the relevant authorities,” he said.
“Homer, if it was Homer as he has not yet been positively identified, was brought in on Saturday morning by a member of the public.
“We checked our ‘lost’ register, in which we record details of missing animals reported to the surgery, but found no matching entry.
“We did not attempt to contact the dog warden, as we had previously been informed that they did not operate at weekends.
“The police no longer have legal responsibility for stray dogs and do not maintain a list.
“He was comforted by one of our nurses and examined by two experienced veterinary surgeons, who found him very agitated and distressed.
“Obviously elderly, he was making clawing, repetitive movements of his front legs, but was unable to stand, even when supported and was barely responsive to his surroundings.
“His lung and heart sounds were muffled and indistinct, he was very thin and was experiencing breathing difficulties.
“They decided that his condition was terminal and considered his prognosis hopeless.
“No palliative treatment could have been provided which would have rendered his condition comfortable, and accordingly he was painlessly put down.
“The same action would have been recommended had he been presented by his owners.
“It is not acceptable, either legally or ethically, for us to admit a stray animal in such a desperate clinical condition to the hospital, in the hope that an owner comes forward.
“It is always with deep regret that we take this drastic action, which is only done to prevent further suffering, but these few unfortunate animals are put down with a gentle touch and a kind word.
“His owners have our deepest sympathy.”