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Statement on Benji outcome from the Mayhew Board of Trustees & CEO

Thursday 19 March 2020

We recently released a short statement, which you can read here, explaining that we are exploring every possibility in the sensitive and nuanced case of a border collie in our care, Benji.

We have been doing everything we can to find a resolution as quickly as possible, while not rushing the time needed to make the most responsible, welfare-based decision. Thank you for your patience.  We now want to update you on Benji’s case and the steps that have been taken.

We are also aware of several questions and pieces of misinformation that have circulated online. You can view responses to the most frequent of these, as well as more detail on some of the issues mentioned below here:

Benji has been, and continues to be, cared for by our expert team, in our newly refurbished kennels, receiving the stimulation, enrichment, exercise and attention he needs. Due to the court proceedings and the large scale public interest in Benji, his case was escalated to the Board of Trustees (Board) for review.  An independent assessment of Benji was undertaken last week by Mr David Ryan PG Dip (CABC) CCAB, an expert witness and behaviourist accredited by the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour as a Clinical Animal Behaviourist.

David’s report concluded that:

It was Mr Ryan’s view – from a purely behavioural rather than rehoming standpoint – that with a robust behaviour modification programme, Benji’s dog aggression could be controlled to an acceptable level by an owner with the right skill level.

The Board have completed their review of Benji’s case, working closely with our CEO and staff team, and based on all the facts and circumstances have decided that although David Ryan’s independent assessment reflects Mayhew’s original behavioural views of Benji, with the wider publicity this case has generated (particularly amongst individuals and organisations experienced with his breed type, and living in much more rural and low dog-populated settings than our usual adopters), we are hopeful that an adopter with the appropriate skills can be found.

In this exceptional case we have therefore decided that Benji will not be euthanised. Benji will continue to be looked after at Mayhew whilst we explore options for his behavioural training and rehoming.

We are very grateful to the many people who have offered to adopt Benji but due to his behavioural needs, we can only rehome him to an individual with the experience and skill required or a breed specific registered charity for future adoption.

The Board also thanks the dedicated team at Mayhew, who are working on the complex frontline of animal welfare. We do understand the distress a case like Benji’s can cause but the level of misinformation and negative feedback shared on social media has been very hurtful and upsetting for everyone at the charity. From the animal care professionals, to the clinic staff, to those managing our social media or reception, to the Board of Trustees – everyone at Mayhew is an animal lover first and foremost.

Thank you for your patience and understanding while the right home for Benji is found.

Svetlana Ignatieva, Chair, Board of Trustees and Caroline Yates, CEO