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My pets face a death sentence

PUBLISHED: 07:25 07 October 2010 | UPDATED: 11:14 14 October 2010

TWO ageing dogs are facing a death sentence – after a pensioner was told by Islington Council bosses that she had too many pets. Grandmother-of-four Kathleen Hemstead, 61, is being forced to get rid of two of her three dogs – because of a rule that states

TWO ageing dogs are facing a death sentence - after a pensioner was told by Islington Council bosses that she had too many pets.

Grandmother-of-four Kathleen Hemstead, 61, is being forced to get rid of two of her three dogs - because of a rule that states council tenants are only allowed one canine.

She is now faced with the agonising choice of having to choose between 14-year-old Staffordshire bull terrier Tara, 13-year-old border collie Sassy and 11-year-old Staffie Tupac.

And she claims that the two that are cast out will end up being put down because nobody wants old dogs.

Mrs Hemstead, a retired carer who lives in a council flat in Kerridge Court, off Balls Pond Road, Islington, said: "They've said that I'm only allowed to have one dog and that I have to find alternative owners or the dog warden will come and take them.

"But no-one will take on an old dog and if they are taken away, they will be put down. Everyone knows that dog kennels are overflowing. They are condemning my dogs to death.

"I won't give the dogs up. I have got to fight this. I have lived here for more than 40 years and I can't even tell you what the rules are - and other people round here have more than one dog. One neighbour has four."

Homes for Islington, the organisation that manages Islington's council homes, has been urged to get tough on council tenants who keep out-of-control status dogs such as pit bulls and Staffordshire bull terriers.

Police and the RSPCA claim that puppy breeding of status dogs is rife on Islington's council estates - and have told HFI to enforce their one-dog rule.

David Grant, director of RSPCA Harmsworth Animal Hospital in Sonderburg Road, Holloway, said: "One of the problems that we get is that people are indiscriminately breeding dogs, particularly in social housing, and it's up to each council to deal with this problem. What is needed is a raft of measures- no one measure is going to be the answer." He added that Islington could follow the example set by Wandsworth Council - where tenants are not banned from having more than one dog, but they are required to have them all microchipped and their details stored on a database.

But Mrs Hemstead says that her ageing pets are completely non-violent - and are not used for breeding. She has even got her neighbours to sign a petition in her favour.

She said: "Tara has had two cancerous lumps removed, is spayed and is the most gentle dog you could imagine - even my three-year-old grandson can walk him. Sassy suffers from epileptic fits, has arthritis and can't run. Tupac is neutered and chipped and sleeps on the bed next to me. He has been attacked by other dogs four times so I never let him off the lead.

"No-one around here has ever complained about my dogs. I have been collecting a petition and so far I have three pages full. Even the caretakers have signed it."

According to HFI rules, council tenants can only keep one dog unless they get special written permission from Islington Council.

A spokesman for HFI said: "We've asked an animal warden to visit Mrs Hemstead to talk her through the options around her pets.

"While we understand the situation, the tenancy agreement does state that residents can only have one dog in their property. We will be working Mrs Hemstead to resolve this issue as quickly as possible.


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