An extraordinary dog has died after an 18-year career of catching more than 150 rats.
Nineteen-year-old Dillon, the council ratcatcher, passed away on Monday in the arms of his owner, best friend, soulmate and workmate – council pest control supervisor Ron Haygarth.
Sporting his hi-vis jacket, ‘City Ratcatcher’ ID badge and even his own union card, Dillon was a recognisable member of the pest control team.
He was picked up as a stray by the Lancaster City Council dog wardens when he was around seven months old and soon adopted by Ron.
When Dillon was 12 months old Ron judged that he was ready to start earning his keep and he was put to work as a ratcatcher.
One of the highlights of his career was rescuing four employees in a Lancaster building society who had barricaded themselves in to escape a rat running round the premises.
On another occasion an elderly woman was so pleased at Dillon catching a rat from behind her fridge that she gave him the piece of prime steak she’d got in for her dinner.
Dillon was invaluable to the council in a PR capacity too, becoming mascot for County College at Lancaster University, where he was presented with a made-to-measure mortarboard.
He was also made a life member of the Transport & General Workers’ Union and given his own union card.
During his career Dillon was never bitten by a rat and particularly enjoyed flushing out rats on farms.
A Lancaster City Council spokesman said: “Dillon was loved by everyone who met him and will be truly missed.”