CALLOUS dog owners are being warned they face prosecution as they try to offload their unwanted pets by claiming the animals are strays.
Council chiefs have come across two cases recently of owners trying to hand in animals to the dog warden service claiming they found the pets.
But the council proved the finders were actually the owners who wanted to get rid of them.
Officials say they are concerned at the ruse and have warned owners they could be reported to the police and end up in court.
Kate Ainger, the council’s environmental projects officer, said: “Most cases are difficult to prove because the dogs in question are not micro-chipped or their chips contain the details of a previous owner.
“Nevertheless, when we arrive to pick up some dogs it is pretty obvious that they are being taken from their owners and not random people they have only just met.
“We have had two recent cases, however, where we were able to prove without question that the dogs being handed in were not strays.”
In the first case the dog’s microchip showed it was registered to the address of the person handing it in.
The council refused to take it and issued the owner with a warning.
In the second case, the dog was collected in good faith by a dog warden but they later discovered the finder was again the dog’s real owner.
It has since been re-homed and the council is chasing costs from the original owner for its collection, kennelling, and re-homing.
Miss Ainger added: “We want people to be aware that we are actively on the look out for people abusing our dog warden service and where fraud is identified we will take action to recoup any costs incurred.
“We may even report the owner to the police for fraud and to the RSPCA for abandonment of an animal, both of which could result in criminal prosecution.”