Improved scanning procedure at Sunderland
Updated: Dec 9, 2019
Toffee was a much loved cat to Becca & Robyn, who are flatmates. On January 31st this year, Becca's 23rd birthday, Toffee didn't return home. The next morning there was still no sign of him causing them to panick. After he still did not return a few days later, they became frantic with worry. Knowing the council could collect cats, Becca rang Sunderland City Council, and asked them if they had found Toffee to which they said they had no cat matching their description. Becca then went to plan B, and had 400 posters laminated and printed off. They then set off around the estate, and surrounding areas, to post these through doors and hang them up in shops. Within an hour of doing this they got a call from a lady confirming she had found Toffee's deceased body in her garden early Thursday morning. Heartbroken, Becca just felt completely numb from the shock and anger as she walked home.
Within minutes of reaching home Becca rang Sunderland Council only to be met with excuses. That night she sat in bed and cried feeling like her heart had been ripped out of her chest. Without closure, Becca would still search the house of a night, and call him, expecting him to be waiting at the back door waiting to be let in. Once she had calmed down a little, she rang the council again to delve deeper and raise a complaint. This is when they finally confirmed they indeed had Toffees body all along and Becca could collect him. There was no clear explanation, no sympathy, nothing. Becca was angry Sunderland Council had lied on numerous occasions, and shown no remorse for their actions and how they handled everything. When Toffee's body was collected, Sunderland stated no one had called through to ask if Toffee was there. The council also confirmed they do not contact owners of the deceased animals, even after obtaining details from a chip.
CatsMatter have been alerted to this council before, so when we spoke to Becca after hearing Toffee's story, the true scale of what had been happening in Sunderland came to light. We had suspected something wasn't quite right for a while, and after speaking to Becca we decided enough was enough.
As we were alerted to this on a Friday, we instantly started making contact with Sunderland officials to express our dissatisfaction, and demand change, and justice for Toffee. Monday morning came, and it was soon clear Sunderland council's waste department would be informed they had treated their last cat like rubbish. Instantly councillors expressed disgust, and were appreciative that such a disturbing occurrence had been brought to their attention. Instantly an internal investigation was launched. Local MP Julie Elliot also stated her dissatisfaction, and instantly opened talks with the waste team at Sunderland. We also fired up the local press to ensure that Toffee's story would not be dealt with in the shadows, and people could be fully aware of what was going on.
After over a month of debate with the council, we now have the confirmation we have been looking for. After a wider review of the entire department, the entire system has been shook up as a result. The entire process of how they scan & store cats has now been reviewed, and we have confirmation on what they plan to do about it. They are now in the process of recruiting additional staff to their technical support team. Once the new staff members are recruited, they will be allocating the team member responsible for notifying the owners, and overseeing the smooth running of the entire process. Staff admitted to Becca they scan, but don't contact the owners anyway so 'it's pointless', but now someone is being recruited for the position, so we are confident this won't be happening again. We won't just leave it there of course. We will be keeping in contact with Environmental management at Sunderland, and hope to introduce ourselves to the new recruit very soon.
Both ourselves and Becca are very happy at how this has turned out, and we feel it really does get some justice for Toffee. Becca has also created a Facebook page where people can show support, and share their own experiences with their council. https://www.facebook.com/groups/acatsvoice/permalink/151930765485473/
The driver who hit and left Toffee treated him like rubbish. The council waste department had no respect for Becca & Robyn's pain, and treated them like rubbish!
Toffee wasn't 'rubbish', nor is an owners need for closure or wanting the body back for a proper goodbye rubbish! It's never 'just a cat', and 1 cat can change everything! Toffee shook up an entire council department - and got someone a brand new job! Toffee mattered!
RIP Little man