Luton woman's heartache after council worker 'throws away’ dead cat without scanning for microchip

Council says worker did not follow its procedure when dealing with injured or dead animals
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A Luton woman has started a petition to make it mandatory for councils to check dead cats and dogs found on roads for microchips.

Maya Nessa started the petition on after a Luton Borough Council street cleaner dumped her chipped pet cat Zuzu’s body.

Zuzu had gone missing from home in Lewsey Farm at the end of January. For a week, Maya and her small children were devastated as they searched and waited for their young cat to return home.

Zazu, Maya's cat. Picture: Maya NessaZazu, Maya's cat. Picture: Maya Nessa
Zazu, Maya's cat. Picture: Maya Nessa

But on February 3 a neighbour told Maya that he had seen a cat being picked up by a council worker on Wheatfield Road.

Maya said: “How could you do that? I thought he was just picked up and taken back to the depot where he wasn't scanned, but he was just thrown away with the rest of the rubbish.”

The council said the correct procedure for dealing with dead pets was not followed, and apologised for the error. But Maya and her family are upset that they were not given the chance to reunite with their beloved pet.

She added: “They're part of our family, our pets. The way [the council] speak about the pets is like ‘Oh, they're just vermin’ and they don't have the budget to deal with it.

“What if you've done that to our children? I don't believe this is the first time they've done it. [Dead pets] belong to someone. They need to go back to someone so we can bury them and grieve for them.”

A spokesperson for Luton Borough Council said: “The council does have a procedure for dealing with fatally injured or dead animals found in the town. In this particular instance the procedure, which includes checking for microchips and storage where appropriate, was not followed correctly.

“We have contacted the resident and sincerely apologised for this error on our part. All our street cleansing teams have been reminded of the correct procedure and we will shortly update our website to ensure the public is made aware of the policy in place.”

In England, it is a legal requirement to chip cats and dogs, but there is nothing in place to ensure that councils scan microchips to reunite pets with their owners. Gizmo’s Legacy is a campaign group hoping to get a law passed to make this mandatory for all local authorities.

Helena Abrahams started the campaign after her cat Gizmo was struck by a car in 2016 before being removed from the roadside and taken to landfill.

Helena said: "The problem is councils across the country do not scans these cats even when it says they do on all their websites. We need closure on this issue, and a law change cannot come soon enough."

Helena says 92% of local councils have a form of arrangement in place to scan cats, but only about 75% are actually informing the microchip company, who tell the owner.

Click here to sign Maya’s petition – which has been signed by more than 1,800 people so far.