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Father's fury after dog let outside by autistic daughter is 'held to ransom' by council

PUBLISHED: 09:40 30 May 2019 | UPDATED: 15:15 30 May 2019

Jude Goodwin, from Halesworth, says his dog Bonzo was

Jude Goodwin, from Halesworth, says his dog Bonzo was "held to ransom" by East Suffolk Council after going missing. Bonzo with one of Mr Goodwin's daughters, Sofie. Picture: Jude Goodwin

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A father has been forced to pay £200 for the return of his dog - which only went missing after his autistic daughter accidentally let him outside.

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Jude Goodwin's dog Bonzo went missing from Mount Pleasant in Halesworth on May 21, before being found on Norwich Road.

The microchipped Staffie cross was taken to a vets and, after failing to track down the owner, East Suffolk Council (ESC) arranged for him to be homed in kennels.

Mr Goodwin collected Bonzo from the Meadowgreen Dog Rescue Centre in Hales on May 23, but only after paying a £200 fee.

With his beloved pet finally back at home, the 28-year-old says he intends to submit a complaint about the council's apparent lack of understanding.

Dog held to ransomDog held to ransom

"My daughter Esme has severe autism," said Mr Goodwin. "She opened the door and unfortunately the dog ran outside.

"He probably wasn't even five doors away before someone took him to the vets. They would've seen my address on Bonzo's microchip and could even have walked him home - I only live down the road.

"It was out of hours so I couldn't get hold of anyone. Eventually I found out he'd been put in kennels by the council."

Despite disputing the £200 charge, Mr Goodwin handed over the money in a bid to cheer up his devastated children.

"The council literally held my dog to ransom," he added. "All the while I had three distraught kids at home who were crying their eyes out for two days.

"I'm raging about this and will be making a complaint. It makes me wonder how many others have experienced the same thing."

In response to the claims, ESC said calls were made to the dog's owner using a number on his microchip but there was no answer. When the owner failed to come forward, the dog was placed in kennels.

A spokesman added: "We received a lost dog report to our 'out of hours' service and contact was made with the owner on May 22. The dog was not collected until May 23.

"There is a charge for ensuring dogs are kept safe until owners can be located and it must be paid when the dog is collected.

"Dogs are legally required to wear collars and tags in public places, and microchip details must be correct. Had this been the case, the dog and owner would have been reunited within hours."

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