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Battle lines drawn as Mayhew refuses to hand over ‘grieving dog’ Benji to border collie community

PUBLISHED: 09:41 04 March 2020 | UPDATED: 09:58 04 March 2020

Benji, who's in the centre of a battle with Mayhew. Picture: Border Collies R US facebook group

Benji, who's in the centre of a battle with Mayhew. Picture: Border Collies R US facebook group

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More than 10.000 people have signed a petition urging a Kensal Green charity to release a “grieving” dog which is due to be put down.

Benji, who's in the centre of a battle with Mayhew. Picture: Border Collies R US facebook groupBenji, who's in the centre of a battle with Mayhew. Picture: Border Collies R US facebook group

Benji, a five-year-old Border Collie, is in the centre of a custody battle between the animal charity Mayhew, in Trenmar Gardens, and the rescue centre Border Collie Spot, in Berkshire.

Colin Morath placed his dogs Benji and Barney into the Mayhew under temporary care for eight weeks while undergoing treatment for cancer.

Mr Morath died sadly on February 23 and the dogs became the legal responsibility of the Mayhew, which is also the borough's animal pound.

The collie was allegedly involved in a dog-on-dog incident, which is why he failed an assessment by Mayhew staff and given a put to sleep (PTS) order.

Benji, who's in the centre of a battle with Mayhew. Picture: Border Collies R US facebook groupBenji, who's in the centre of a battle with Mayhew. Picture: Border Collies R US facebook group

Jill White runs the Border Collie Spot, a not-for-profit organisation that rehomes collies or keeps them until they die naturally. It offered to take Benji and was refused, before spending £743 on two injunctions.

She said: "Mayhew haven't told anyone anything - they wouldn't tell them how the assessment was done, whether the dog had been destroyed, that's why we got the first injunction asking if he was alive, and then the second, not to kill him."

A Mayhew spokesperson said: "Considering euthanasia is always the last resort. This specific case is nuanced and sensitive, and we are continuing to explore all possible options.

"All decisions made have and will continue to be based on the most responsible animal welfare outcome."

The spokes person added: "The case has been stayed for six weeks by the court to allow the matter to be resolved without any further costs incurred by either side, which Mayhew of course wants to avoid.

"Until we have a resolution, Benji will stay in our newly refurbished kennels, in the care of our expert team."

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A petition launched last Thursday, demanding that Mayhew releases Benji, has reached 10,019 signatures in just five days.

A fundraising effort is also under way to raise £6,000 should the matter go to court.

Actor Peter Egan, who is a supporter of Mayhew, retweeted the petition urging his followers: "Please everyone join me and help save: Save Benji - Sign the Petition!"

Noreen Morath, Colin's ex-wife, took the older, slower Barney but could not take the younger dog.

She said: "I spoke to Mayhew the day after Colin's funeral on the 25th. She said Benji hadn't passed his assessment and he was being put to sleep. I nearly passed out. I begged her, please don't, please, please let someone have him, don't put him to sleep, family friends think he's a lovely little fella."

She added: "I don't know what's happened to him, or how they are keeping him, if he's penned up. He needs an awful lot of exercise. I hope they see sense and release him."

Prior to his death Colin regularly posted pictures of his "boys" on Facebook group Border Collies R Us.

Jakki Duffy, from the chat group, and who helped Colin collect Benji four years ago, said: "We used to meet up with them. Benji is a lovely boy, so handsome. My dog can be funny and doesn't like dogs bigger than him. My dog did curl a lip when he saw him then he and Benji were fine.

"Collies are highly intelligent, they need a lot of mental stimulation and a lot of exercise. God knows what's happening in there.

"It's heartbreaking. Colin loved those dogs and left them there hoping they'd be rehoused. Benji's lost his owner, his brother - he's grieving.

"There's so much determination to get this dog out. It's going to be done somehow, we'll raise the money somehow."

She added the chat group, of which Benji is mascot, has 2,800 followers and that one had suggested "tweeting Megan Markle for help" as she is a patron of Mayhew.

Visit change.org/p/anyone-save-benji for the petition.


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