Man’s heartbreak as missing dog rehomed

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Nennella was rehomed after going missing, leaving her owner heartbroken

Foreword by Beverley Cuddy

Nennella’s story is a sad one, but social media can be a powerful force for good and bad. It can pull us together or pull us apart.

I have decided to write an introduction to this story. I am the Editor of Dogs Today and today I heard that by publishing this story we had inadvertently fuelled some online hate. While factually correct, the article on Nennella whipped some people up into a frenzy and they have lashed out out people who are entirely innocent.

It simply is so unfair to let this become personal. We already live in difficult times, for people, for dogs and for charities. We need to start being kinder to each other.

Rescues are struggling, there is a feeling that a tsunami is coming of unwanted dogs, but at the moment the tide has gone out and things are eerily quiet. Funds are tight.

When a dog comes in as a stray, in season, seemingly unwanted and unclaimed they do their best for that dog. They follow the law to the letter and they pay to spay and care for the dog and try to find that dog a forever home with someone who will keep her safe.

More and more charities are finding themselves involved in court cases over ownership disputes. Their funds were never intended to defend legal challenges, their staff never expected to be vilified and to left feeling unsafe.

Everyone, please take a breath. Let’s support our rescues and let’s learn something positive from this mess – do check that all our dogs’ chips are up to date.

Yes, it’s now a civil matter as to who owns this dog. There’s no need for blame and name-calling.

Nennella could have ended up run over that day, could have been stolen and used as a breeding slave, could have been stolen for fighting. But instead she’s safe. There are now two lots of people who love her and if they can’t agree between themselves who can provide her with the best life then maybe they have to go to court.

This is a very unfortunate series of events – if only Nennella had been wearing at least a tag or been chipped. Let’s all take a breath and first chance you get, check your dog’s microchip is up to date and campaign for chips to mean more, let’s have one database and a compulsion to scan.

Obviously, never leave your dog anywhere they could be stolen or escape. I’ve seen the video of when Fennella jumped the fence, the wall was not high, the road was very busy.

Dogs are not things, they’re not commodities. Maybe both sides could be asked to agree to arbitration? I know Dr Roger Mugford offers this service to married couples divorcing who can’t agree who gets the dog because the both love him or her. Have someone independent judge where Nennella would be happiest and best cared for. If both sets of owners love this dog, well didn’t someone once do this to two mother’s arguing as to whose baby it was?

Have you noticed that while rescue is still quiet, the dreadful selling websites are full of people flogging their now slightly older panic bought pups of the pandemic. They’ve paid thousands and they all want some money back. Dogs are ricocheting every few weeks as these now mostly untrained dogs get more and more messed up.

While all this is happening, on Facebook people are raging at a charity that did nothing wrong. Of course we feel sorry for Walter, he is missing his dog – but he is so very lucky she’s alive and well – she could so easily have been run over that day or worse.

Of course we feel sorry for the new owner who just applied to rescue a dog without signing on for all this stress, and for the charity staff that has to install security cameras and feel safe again.

Let’s take all the nastiness out of this, please. We all love dogs. We are all on the same side.

“When Nennella went missing, I didn’t sleep for days. I was out all the time, in the rain, putting up posters and looking for her in all her favourite places. It was like my child was missing, she is my baby. I got her as a pup soon after my brother died, and she was my everything.”

Walter Bocchetti, an Italian chef living in London, was away on a job interview when his dog Nennella, a four-year-old brindle Staffie cross, went missing in Enfield on 21 September 2020. Nennella had been staying at a friend’s house, and she was caught on CCTV leaping over the fence before wandering off.

Upon finding out his dog was missing, Walter immediately travelled back and spent the next several days looking for Nennella, putting up poster and contacting all rescues he heard of – but to no avail.

Unfortunately, Nennella was not microchipped, as Walter was unaware of the law mandating all dogs to be chipped.

“I didn’t know, and I know it is no justification – it was my mistake,” Walter says. “But I love that dog, I do. I never once thought this could happen to her. I tried all I could to find her. Being without her breaks my heart.”

During his search, Walter attempted to make contact with the local dog warden, but his call did not go through. When he tried again on 29 September, he was told that no dog matching Nennella’s description was in their care.

“They said they would let me know if anything turned up, but I didn’t hear from them again,” Walter says. “Only in October, after I took initiative and called them back, was I told that they did have Nennella at one point – and that she had been rehomed.

I was desperate and heartbroken. She’s my baby

“For some reason the lady on the line kept going on how boisterous she was, and about the amount of money they had spent on her,” Walter adds. “She was really harsh. I told her that I would be happy to pay them back for everything, anything that I may owe them, any fine – but basically all I was told was that Nennella had been rehomed and that was it.

“I didn’t understand, I had called the dog warden on 29 September and they told me they hadn’t seen any dog matching her description. I was desperate and heartbroken. She’s my baby.”

In the weeks since Nennella went missing, thousands of people joined a group looking to get Nennella back home. Patrick Walsh, admin of the group, says, “Walter has had Nennella since she was a pup. He loved her and she loved him – they shouldn’t be apart.

“While I appreciate that Nennella should have been microchipped, the penalty for failing to chip your dog is a fine – not the loss of the dog.”

It turned out that Haringey Council had handed Nennella over to London-based rescue All Dogs Matter, who later rehomed her. All Dogs Matter told Dogs Today that Nennella came into their care on 29 September – the same day Walter called the dog warden and was told they did not have any dog resembling his description of Nennella.

Nennella then remained with All Dogs Matter for a few weeks before they found her a home – entirely unaware that her owner was desperately searching for her. As things stand now, Nennella’s adopter has declined to return her and the charity cannot share their details with third parties.

Patrick says, “I am certain that All Dogs Matter did everything legally, and it is unfortunate they were dragged into this. The heart of the problem in this case is that so much heartache could have been avoided if only Walter was told, in his call with the dog warden, that Nennella had been just handed over to a rehoming charity.

“If that had happened, he would have immediately got in touch with All Dogs Matter and Nennella could have gone home quickly. But Walter was never told as much, All Dogs Matter had no idea the dog taken to them as a stray had an owner looking for her, and of course they rehomed her – it is their purpose, and we do not blame them for it.”

Unfortunately, it has not been possible to return Nennella to her previous owner

A statement by Haringey Council about the case reads, “Our options are limited when a dog has no identification and unfortunately on this occasion there was no tag or microchip that would have given us the opportunity to return the dog to its owner. This is always our aim.

“We can confirm Nennella was rehomed to another family after a period of seven days. Similar to many other councils this is our usual practice and we work closely with registered dog charities to ensure that dogs are rehomed safely.

“We sympathise completely and understand the distress this may have caused. Unfortunately, it has not been possible to return Nennella to her previous owner, but we continue to explore available avenues open to us.”

Walter is now planning to go through the civil court to try and get Nennella back; funds to cover the costs are being raised through the Bring Nennella Home Facebook group.

A statement by All Dogs Matter reads, “In Nennella’s case she was picked up as a stray by Harringay Council. She was not wearing a collar or an ID tag and was not microchipped. After seven days Nennella was passed to our charity for rehoming. She remained on our website and in our care for a number of weeks before we matched her with a suitable forever home.

“We have been made aware that a group wants to challenge the law that applies to strays, after raising significant funds, and has arbitrarily chosen Nennella’s rehoming as a test case resulting in All Dogs Matter now possibly facing being joined in a court case despite having acted completely legally. Our solicitors have been in touch with Harringay Council’s legal team who have also confirmed that they are satisfied that Nennella’s case has been handled correctly and in line with legislation.

“Being forced to defend totally accepted rehoming practice, we will have to use limited funds to deal with this case which could otherwise be used saving and improving dogs’ lives.

“We are concerned that supporters of this campaign have made inappropriate, misleading and derogatory remarks about All Dogs Matter including insults and threats. Our volunteers and staff have a right to work safely without being subjected to this offensive behaviour. All appropriate action will be taken against anyone who behaves in this way, hindering our humane and important work saving dogs’ lives.”

Nennella was rehomed in October

Patrick says he is unaware of derogatory remarks or threats, and maintains that the situation could have been easily avoided if only Walter had been told, on his call to the dog warden on 29 September, that Nennella had just been handed over to All Dogs Matter.

“Microchip or not, they had the chance to tell her owner as much before she was even rehomed. This entire situation is something that could have been solved so quickly and with no heartache,” Patrick says. “But it was not so, and if the only way for Nennella and Walter to be reunited is through courts, then so be it.”

“I just wanted to let you know that Nennella’s favourite food is boiled chicken and rice, which I would prepare for her personally”

With the matter now in the hands of solicitor, Walter has written an open letter to Nennella’s adopter.

“I just wanted to let you know that Nennella’s favourite food is boiled chicken and rice, which I would prepare for her personally,” he wrote. “Nennella is sweet with everyone, but she doesn’t likes foxes and barks when she’s distracted, and can bark at night if she hears something.

“She is super sweet to all humans. I have taught her lots of commands through biscuit games, which she loves so much.”

21 COMMENTS

  1. This is heartbreaking and I cannot understand how someone who takes a rescue dog, has it for a very short time, is then told that the owner of four years has been desperately looking for it all the time, would then refuse to return it to the one person the dog has been cared for and loved for the whole of her life. Not a nice response at all.

  2. The dog warden and rehoming centre have done nothing wrong. The dog was not wearing a collar and ID tag neither was she microchipped. Owners have to take responsibility, none of this would of happened if the owner had complied with the laws.

    • the penalty in law for not having a collar or tag or not chipped is a fine – not someone taking your pet and never returning them again. Also the section of the EP law covering stay dogs has one purpose. To give councils control over stray dogs. It is not the intention of this law to remove pets from their owners. In the group you will see the massive effort Walter and Nennellas original lost group took to find her…. and what did His Local Council and the Rescue do to find him? – Absolutely Nothing. Also it appears DogLost knew she was with the warden as early as 22nd September – but did not inform the owner. So much more to this story. But Yes Owner didnt comply with the laws so should have his dog returned and be fined – as per the law, so perhaps the warden and rescue should also comply with the law?

  3. It’s a series of unfortunate events….first on owner’s part with no chip
    and ID (Something for which he’ll never forgive himself for sadly), then a fault on the council’s part for not passing on the correct information and then re-homing poor Nenella so quickly, not giving previous owner a chance.

    Ultimately you have to have the dog’s best interest at heart. I personally couldn’t keep a dog, knowing it belonged to someone else and has done it’s whole life. It may be pining….it’s just so sad.
    PLEASE new owners rethink and have the poor dog’s best interest at heart because he is a good, kind owner who adores his dog

    • I fully agree. The dog belonged to the owner and while the rescuer retrieved it from being a stray they should first have made an effort to find her owner. – owner being the relevant word. Having had the owner look for her and knowing she had the dog , the rescuer should have admitted she had the dog and returned it to the owner. What she did was disgraceful, deliberately deceitful, a lie, and technically amounted to theft. I’d pursue this through the courts – a dog is a chattel not a child. I imagine she would have made money from rehoming it rather than handing it back. Knowing that the dog had s happy home it was also not the action of a dog lover as much as a mercenary. She shouldn’t be trusted with other people’s animals and is a disgrace

      • I do agree with you..the owner had rang them up..to ask about his dog…it’s not as though he didn’t do anything about the dog…it is a disgrace..

  4. Nenella needs to be back with her REAL Daddy ASP, whilst the people who have her now are totally not at fault, they know first certain Nenella is not part of a family, she has her family with her Daddy.
    Makes me wonder why the Dog Wardens have lied through their teeth ?? and are still doing so.
    And even though the rescue Nenella went to are completely innocent of any wrong doing, now they know the truth they should be liaising with the family who has Nenella, and getting her back to her REAL HOME WITH HER REAL DADDY. To not release her is just being cruel, and why when they now know the truth their still refusing to give her up.
    Nope WALTER AND PATRICK NEED TO FIGHT ON, NENELLA NEEDS TO BE RETURNED TO HER TRUE HOME. And I’ll help as much as I can in the way of a small donation each month, and I that all Walter’s and Nenella’s supporters do the same, this is one fight which can’t be lost.

  5. Why did it take him 9 days to contact the dog warden. Even if his first call hadn’t gone through, I would be on redial until I had got through. I feel for him, but the rescue did nothing wrong and it looks like they are going to have legal fees to pay which will take away from the support they may have been able to give other animals. Too much irresponsible ownership today and hopefully he will learn that needs to take more care of any dog he has in the future.

    • It didn’t take him 9 days to contact the dog warden. Please please don’t quote incorrectly without knowing the FULL story first.

    • Please join the group to get Walter’s side of the story.
      He did everything he could to find Nennella.
      If you read his story you will realise how heartbreaking and wrong this is.

  6. It is not a matter of the wardens or charity having done anything wrong but a matter of what is morally correct not just for the owner but for the dog, the new family can not be much of a dog lover nor want the best for the pup when they are refusing to hand back to the original owner whom after 3 yrs had an obvious bond, this just goes to show the type of family that has adopted this pup, unlike the lady whom contacted the owner of the dog she bought on gumtree and handed her back to her own heartbreak as it was the correct thing to do, this family is just thinking about themselves and not the dogs well being so yes there the charity failed in vetting them too

  7. The dog should stay with its new owner who obviously love her. She’s better off. There is NO excuse not having her chipped & unspayed. Anything could have happened to her. Thank god it didn’t. Who goes for a job interview during lockdown. How many jobs are going in a pandemic?

  8. Since she was located at Harringay Council kennel for 7 days, then turned over to an adoption facility, while the original owner had contacted the dog officer multiple times looking for his dog, here in the USA it is also difficult to reach ACOs (animal control officers) he finally got through on the same day that she had been handed over to the rescue, told no she had not been there, called again & told she was gone and adopted! Why since this is an obvious case of serious professional negligence is the whole adoption not null & void?

  9. Put yourself in that situation , the dog needs to be with it’s rightful owner . If you put the dog in a field an both owners walked in guess who it would run to !

  10. The person who rehomed this dog should return her to this man, he has brought her up and they love each other, give her the choice she would 100% go to the home she knows with the man she clearly adores. This is beyond cruel both to the man and the dog she didn’t want a new home. Anyone who has brought a dog up from a puppy knows that love is far stronger than taking in an older dog. She is his baby give her back

  11. Surely the dog warden who was handed in the same day as he rang them,should be a countable for not telling the rightful owner,it’s not as he is unrecognisable as he is a brindle colour,why did he not know

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