‘We just wanted to help this poor dog’

Sarah Rash, who managed to catch 'Friar', who had been on the loose for over a week in Sudbury. ANL-151027-110856001
Sarah Rash, who managed to catch 'Friar', who had been on the loose for over a week in Sudbury. ANL-151027-110856001

A community came together this week to help rescue a dog that was running loose on Sudbury’s meadows, with fears it may not survive as the weather gets colder.

First spotted several weeks ago on the Valley Walk, walkers and dog owners have been unsuccessfully trying to catch the stray lurcher but without success.

Described as very nervous, the dog, now named Friar, had been running away from concerned residents, who said it had been getting thinner.

On Sunday there was finally a positive outcome as Sarah Rash, owner of Dapper Dogs in Great Cornard, caught the dog.

The news was met with delight by hundreds of people on social media who had been following the dog’s adventures on several of the town’s Facebook groups.

One post about Friar had attracted 281 comments alone.

Friar is now being looked after at Mulberry Court Vets in Sudbury.

The vets had to stitch up a wound on Friar’s paw.

There has also been support from The Sudbury Dog Company, which has given Friar a lead, harness and dog food.

One of those out looking for Friar this weekend was Donna Buzzeo, a veterinary nurse at the All Animal Dental Centre at Mulberry Court Vets.

On Saturday she was out for most of the day trying to spot him, before he was finally caught by Mrs Rash on Sunday evening.

Mrs Buzzeo said despite initial concerns by residents that he was looking skinny, he was in a reasonable condition.

“He’s done okay for his adventure. He fended for himself, he’s in fairly good shape.

“He’s quite lucky. He’s been spotted in quite a few places. He’s lucky he’s not been hit by a car.”

Friar was even spotted by the town’s railway tracks.

Mrs Buzzeo described Friar as a “nice gentle dog, but said he had no collar or microchip, with few clues as to where he had come from.

He was set to go to a lurcher rescue centre in Holkham, Norfolk, on Wednesday, however, it is believed he may be missing from a home in Dorset and will stay at the vets in Sudbury until this is confirmed.

Mrs Buzzeo said she was proud of the way the community had come together to help Friar, with many residents out looking for him, others putting food down and many tracking his progress on Facebook.

“The community really got into it,” she said. “It’s quite amazing really. People really want to know what happens to him now.”

However, there have been criticisms of the reaction from local and national authorities.

Calls were made to the RSPCA, Babergh District Council and the police, all met with responses that it was not their responsibility.

A spokesman for Babergh said: “Babergh District Council is responsible for the collection and kennelling of any stray dog which is handed over to them by a member of public.

“We are not able to respond to reports of stray dogs which are on the loose, however if there are concerns the dog may be dangerous or is on a public highway then the police should be contacted.”

A spokeswoman from the RSPCA said: “We are very pleased to hear that this dog is safe after being found in the Sudbury area and is being cared for.

“We were contacted by someone concerned for his welfare, but they described him as a stray and were unable to give us a specific location of where he was, which made it difficult for us to try and find him.

The responsibility for collecting stray dogs, including the provision of an out-of-hours service, was switched to local authorities from the police on April 7, 2008.

“The RSPCA receives around 1.4million calls a year - which amounts to one call every four seconds. As an animal welfare charity funded by public donations and with less than 500 frontline staff across England and Wales we have to prioritise animals that most need our help.

“We want to help as many animals as we can but local authorities receive funding from central Government for dog warden services so we have to prioritise the animals who are not provided for in this way.”