The RSPCA is engaged in a row with a rival animal charity over the fate of a severely disabled, injured dog after vets recommended it should be put down.
Former street dog Bobi was brought to the UK from Bulgaria on 21 December after being rescued from starvation in the gutters.
Action Aid for Animals, a Staffordshire-based charity that focuses on helping Eastern European strays, said the dog can enjoy a good quality of life, despite having disabled hind legs, incontinence and bed sores.
But the RSPCA took the three-year-old terrier away, saying that the dog was “in a poor state of health” and that vets had recommended "that the kindest thing to do was to put him to sleep as he has no quality of life".
Action Aid for Animals, which has been trying to rehome Bobi in the UK, has launched an online petition in which it accuses the RSPCA of “discrimination against non-UK animals and those that have a disability" and demands that the dog be allowed to live.
The petition, which has amassed over 9,000 signatures, states: “Bobby [sic] is from Bulgaria, he lived the most miserable of existences. He did not stand a chance in a country that deems dogs vermin to torture, abuse to do what they want with. Bobbie [sic] was rescued, cared for, internally and externally examined by qualified veterinarians including x-rays and a CT scan. Despite his twisted spinal column ALL agreed with the right care he would lead a quality life the same as any other dog regardless of disability”.
The petition adds that Bobi was cleared by Defra as fit to enter the UK.
He spent the run-up to Christmas with a foster family in the West Midlands but they struggled to cope with the demands of a disabled dog that has to wear nappies. Bobi was then taken to another foster home but was subsequently collected by an RSPCA officer, who said she would return the dog after some routine tests.
But a vet decided that Bobi would be “better off dead”, according to the petition.
As the Save Bobi campaign gained momentum, the RSPCA took Bobi to a specialist vet of the owner's choosing for further assessment.
In a statement on Monday, the charity said, "Sadly their report confirms the first vet’s opinion that Bobi's condition is so bad that he would never enjoy a good quality of life and the kindest option is to put him to sleep.
"In short, there is no likelihood of recovery of a good quality of life. Bobi has now been seen by a total of five independent vets, all of whom believe the kindest option is for him to be put to sleep.
"However the expert veterinary advice, provided today by specialist vets from Langford Veterinary Services at Bristol University, does say that whilst they would not recommend them, there are potential intensive, long-term treatment options available as long as Bobi can be kept comfortable, even though they may do no more than temporarily delay a decision that could be taken more quickly to put Bobi to sleep.
The vets will discuss these with the owner, so that the owner may reach a decision as to their preferred course of action.
This is a very sad situation and a very difficult decision for the owner, with whom the RSPCA will continue to be in contact."