A dog owner who suffers from depression returned from holiday to find his pet had been put down by the council.
David Hall, from Derby, came back home from a trip to Croatia to find out his dog, Blue, a Staffordshire bull terrier, had been put to sleep.
The animal was captured by council dog wardens after it got loose while being taken for a walk by Mr Hall’s neighbour.
Blue was caught by council staff at Markeaton roundabout and taken to Crowfoot Kennels, run by Derby County Council.
It said it later took the decision to put down the dog because it was “aggressive” to council officers and residents.
The council tried to telephone Mr Hall but his mobile phone wasn’t working while he was on holiday. He returned home to find an information card had been posted through his door by the kennels.
When he called them, he was told Blue had been put down.
Mr Hall, a father-of-four, said Blue had helped him with his mental health issues.
“Blue didn’t have a violent bone in his body,” he told the Derby Telegraph. “He was a softie and the most loyal dog.
“I’ve had him since he was a puppy and he loved all humans. My kids adored him and he adored my kids. He would sit there for hours with my son loving the attention. I’m heartbroken.
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“Blue helped me to pull myself together. It made me feel happy when I walked him. I couldn’t wait to see him when I got back from my holiday. He was my best friend.”
Mr Hall said he had to tell his children their pet had gone to “doggy heaven”.
He said he went to say his “final goodbyes” to Blue, who was in a “big chest freezer” at the kennels. He collected Blue’s ashes a few weeks later.
The council’s policy states that if a dog isn’t collected within seven days, it becomes their property.
A Derby City Council spokesperson said: “Mr Hall’s dog was picked up by our contracted stray dog service, after he was reported by a member of the public to be on a public highway.
“Some local residents kindly kept the dog until officers were able to get to him. He was reportedly aggressive towards the residents and officers.
“As we were unable to reunite the dog with its owner, he was taken to kennels. Stray dogs are cared for in kennels for seven days, after which point, they are legally owned by Derby City Council.
“Our kennels received no contact from the friend or owner, and there was no report of this dog being lost.
“The dog showed signs of aggression to the kennel owner and kennel staff, so after the seven days had passed, and no contact had been received, we had to take the difficult decision to put the dog to sleep.
“Dogs who show aggression and cannot safely be adopted or rehomed are, where appropriate, put to sleep.
“We do not take that decision lightly, and would only ever decide to put a dog to sleep if it was deemed absolutely necessary.”