Mayhew says it will not kill Benji the collie but only ‘a reprieve’ say community
PUBLISHED: 13:48 24 March 2020 | UPDATED: 13:48 24 March 2020
A collie dog at the centre of a custody battle will not be killed – but nor will it be given to an organisation fighting to adopt it.
Benji, a five-year-old Border Collie, has been put up for adoption by the animal charity Mayhew in Trenmar Gardens following a community outcry and coverage by this newspaper.
The dog has been at the centre of a custody battle between Mayhew and the rescue centre Border Collie Spot (BCS), in Berkshire, since the end of February.
Mayhew management has now said the dog will not be killed, but nor will ite go to the BCS because the rescue centre is neither a registered charity nor a member of the Association for Dogs and Cats Homes (ADCH).
However any individual can adopt Benji if they “have the dedication to acquire skills from a trainer or behaviourist and apply it” and do not have any other dogs.
The charity has stipulated that an appropriate rescue centre must have a euthanasia policy, whereas the BCS allows dogs to die naturally if not rehomed.
“We’re furious, Benji hasn’t been saved, he’s been given a reprieve,” said Kathy Clements of BCS. “When the court injunction runs out there’s nothing to stop Mayhew destroying him and no one will know.
“He can’t go to Jill [White] at Border Collie Spot, they want him to go to a rescue that doesn’t have a non-destruct policy, they want him to go where there is a destruct policy. I’ve never heard anything like it.”
Colin Morath placed his dogs Benji and Barney at the Mayhew in February under temporary care for eight weeks while he underwent treatment for cancer.
But he died on February 23 and the dogs became the legal responsibility of the charity, which is also the borough’s animal pound.
On February 26, the day after Colin’s funeral, the charity phoned his ex-wife Noreen Morath, who had kept Barney, and said Benji had failed an assessment.
The collie was allegedly involved in a dog-on-dog incident and given a put to sleep (PTS) order.
BCS paid court costs and successfully applied for two injunctions to stop Benji being put down. The two organisations were given six weeks by the courts to negotiate an agreement.
Within days a petition was set up by members of a border collie Facebook page, where Benji was mascot.
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To date more than 22,000 people have signed a petition urging Mayhew to “free Benji and save his life”.
Animal behaviourist David Ryan provided an independent assessment on behalf of Mayhew which “mirrored” the charity’s original finding that “staff correctly identifying Benji’s behaviour as unpredictable dog-to-dog aggression”.
However Mr Ryan’s report said “Benji can be safely managed through the use of a suitable behaviour modification programme”.
Svetlana Ignatieva, chair of the board of trustees and Caroline Yates, Mayhew chief executive, said: “In this exceptional case we have therefore decided that Benji will not be euthanised. Benji will continue to be looked after at Mayhew whilst we explore options for his behavioural training and rehoming.”
Mrs Morath, said: “I don’t understand the dog-on-dog aggression because I’ve never seen any. He might have had a spat with the original dog but I haven’t seen the report to find out exactly what they said.
“I think if people hadn’t intervened, like the Border Collie Spot, who put the injunction in originally, they probably would have put Benji to sleep.
“With everyone’s help, this has made them [Mayhew} think.”
Ms Clements said: “The report is very good on Benji’s part, nothing really went wrong for him.
She added: “There’s been no negotiation on Mayhew’s part, we’ve been chasing and chasing them as we wanted our own assessor to go there but they just arranged their own over the top of us.
“It’s just unbelievable they want him to go to a rescue that doesn’t have a non-destruct policy.
“They are making so many stipulations of what and who they want for the dog. They’re setting him up to fail aren’t they?
“This is just a damage limitation exercise,”
A Mayhew spokesperson denied there was no negotiation, adding: “Our lawyer represented us in all necessary conversations with the other party.”
To sign the petition go to change.org/p/anyone-save-benji