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Operation Peanut Inspires Cat Owner Tracing Service

The death of a tabby cat whose owner’s identity was traced through a Spanish vet has instigated a borough wide scheme.

Pet owners who have lost their cat are now able to check the council’s website www.bromley.gov.uk/DeadCatsCollected to see if their cat has been found.  Cat owners are also being encouraged to ensure that their cat is microchipped as this will enable owners to be traced more easily.  

Operation Peanut started one morning at the end of March earlier this year when the Council’s street cleaning contractor, Kier, came across a beautiful tabby cat that had sadly died. Fortunately the cat was microchipped, and although the owner was registered in Spain, with a bit of detective work, involving emailing a vet in Seville, Jackie Baxter, the council’s environmental campaigns officer was able to trace the owner to Bromley, near to where the cat had been found.  

It transpired that Peanut’s owner had immigrated to England from Marbella eight years ago but had been unable to update the chip’s details - but not through want of trying.  It was this successful reunion that inspired Ms Baxter to explore if more could be done to reunite deceased cats that were not microchipped with their owners so they could have closure, with Operation Peanut now expanding in the memory of the cat from Spain!   

Councillor Colin Smith, Executive Councillor for Environment said, “Every animal owner understands how much loved pets become part of the family and just how much pain it causes when they sadly disappear, often resulting in painstaking, but ultimately unfulfilled searches and appeals for news of their fate.  

This simple, low cost scheme will make a huge difference to so many caught in that invidious position by helping to bring early closure to what can be a very sad and traumatic episode in an owner’s life.  I am therefore delighted to learn that this thoughtful work is now being hailed increasingly widely elsewhere as a breakthrough in this field as well. 

Ms Baxter’s splendid initiative is a full credit to both her and the way that she and her colleagues strive to travel that extra mile to serve local people wherever possible.”   

When Kier comes across a dead cat during routine street cleaning or if a report is received that a cat is lying in a public place, if the cat is microchipped, every effort to contact the owner is made. 

As an owner may spend months or even years looking for their missing pet, Bromley Council will now publish details of dead cats that they have collected that are not microchipped at www.bromley.gov.uk/DeadCatsCollected

All vets in the borough will also be sent a poster that they can display in their practice with a description of the cat, and various animal charities across the borough will also be notified. The cats will be kept for a minimum of three weeks after they have been found before being sent for cremation.

Wayne Gillard, Practice Manager at The Neighbourhood Vet, Penge said “What a fantastic initiative, we welcome anything like this which may put a client’s mind at rest. If you’re a pet owner you’ll know that ‘not knowing’ is sometimes the worst part.”

A decade ago on average around two deceased cats that were not microchipped would be collected every week, but nowadays only one deceased cat is collected every two months or so that is not microchipped. For more information about microchipping, please visit www.cats.org.uk/uploads/documents/EG08_Microchipping.pdf