DCSIMG

Daily battle with the lost and found hounds

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  • by Ellen Beardmore Political Reporter
 

This little puppy was rescued by Sheffield’s dog warden team after she was spotted wandering alone in a Parson Cross park.

She was taken home by a concerned local, and collected by dog control officer Naomi Johnson, who hopes to reunite the Staffordshire bull terrier with her owners.

But it could be tough, as her collar tag is unreadable and she has no microchip.

So the puppy - which looks well-cared for and has a good temperament - is placed in a kennel while Naomi searches through ‘lost reports’ for a match.

If that fails, or if her owners don’t come forward in a week, she will join the many dogs up for adoption.

The four that have waited more than a month are all of the same breed and could be taken to rescue centres.

Dog lover Naomi, who worked in the kennels before her current role, said: “We always have a lot of Staffies, because they are such a popular dog - and because people breed and sell them for just £50 a puppy.”

The life of a warden is hectic, as calls come in constantly through Sheffield Council’s contact centre to report lost or found dogs.

The busiest area is the S5 postcode covering Parson Cross, Firth Park and Shiregreen.

The team also promotes responsible dog ownership and steps in when older people go into hospital and need someone to look after pets. Over the years they have taken in unusual animals, including a centipede.

Mostly it’s dogs, and once one is taken to kennels it is assessed and, if a microchip is found, its owners contacted.

The RSPCA can get involved when animals have health concerns.

Officers must also take safety precautions when dealing with dogs.

Naomi, who was bitten while rescuing a trapped dog the day before she took The Star out, said: “I have friends who think I’m crazy, because it’s true we don’t know these dogs or anything about them.

“But you can’t be scared in this job. You have got to get in there, but safely. In the majority dogs are aggressive because they are scared.”

And the dogs aren’t the only ones who can get angry.

Owners are sometimes abusive when faced with the £62 fee charged to cover the cost of housing lost dogs.

The council says its service also reduces the risk of stray dogs causing accidents, fouling and biting people.

Its Spring Street kennels, due to be replaced with a new facility in Darnall, have signs explaining staff do not set fees - as well as thank you notes.

But Naomi says the worst part of the job is dealing with dog fouling, as officers also investigate complaints and patrol hotspots.

She added: “It is so frustrating. If there is someone letting a dog mess and walking away I will pull up and issue a penalty notice.

“I do love my job. The best bit is to see the transformation of some of the dogs that come in, how they have new homes. Sometimes the change is unbelievable.”

The kennels are open 365 days a year.

Visit www.ineedahome.co.uk to see dogs up for adoption or call 0114 272 6758. Report strays on 0114 203 7410.

 

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