Cat welfare groups urge caution over handing pets to strangers

Cats Protection has said its staff will always carry ID when collecting cats.

Cats Protection has said its staff will always carry ID when collecting cats. - Credit: Archant

Animal welfare charities in Suffolk have urged caution over who found pets are given to after reports of a woman in Ipswich posing as an animal welfare officer to obtain a cat found by a homeowner in their garden.

Earlier this month Ipswich Missing Cats and Cats Protection Ipswich were alerted to an incident where a kitten found by an Ipswich resident was handed over to a woman who claimed to be from Cats Protection Ipswich, after contacting the finder via Facebook.

But Cats Protection Ipswich has confirmed the woman posing as a welfare officer was not a member of its organisation, and has now urged people to make sure they know who they are handing over animals to.

David Smith, branch co-ordinator at Cats Protection Ipswich, said: “It is disturbing – anybody from Cats Protection who would pick up cats would carry an ID card, so always check for their ID to make sure they are who they say they are.

“There’s also quite a lot of paperwork that has to be completed to hand a cat over to us legally, so we would never just take a cat and go.”

Deni Parkes, an admin for the Ipswich Missing Cats Facebook group, urged people who find a pet they believe is missing to find out from vets if it has been microchipped, and to contact organisations such as Cats Protection Ipswich or Blue Cross directly to make sure they are taken in safely.

“It stands to reason that anyone genuinely re-homing would not feel the need to pretend to be part of these organisations.”

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Suffolk police said it had not been made aware of the incident, although Mr Smith said Cats Protection Ipswich had received similar reports around three times in the last year. He added: “It does happen from time to time, but I wouldn’t say it happens on a regular basis.