A grandmother has been left heartbroken after her beloved pet dog was mistakenly euthanized.
Fonzie, a two-year-old Pomeranian cross, fled his home on January 2 during a storm.
The owner's granddaughter, Nadia, discovered the lost pup on the Wyndham Council website and rang the Lost Dogs' Home to claim him.
She was told she needed to visit the shelter to identify Fonzie due to the number of stray Pomeranian crosses currently in care.
Nadia told NewsCorp she arrived at the North Melbourne rescue centre the following morning to discover the dog had been euthanised just hours earlier.
"Grandma was very, very upset," she said. "We gave her the dog to cope with the loss of her husband."
The shelter said Fonzie had not been tagged or micro chipped, so staff could not trace his owners.
Chairman Andrew Tribe said the Pomeranian had also shown 'concerning behavioral problems'.
Animal lovers have hit out at the rate of canine euthanasia at the Lost Dogs' Home.
A campaign, spearheaded by not-for-profit welfare charity Rescued with Love, is gaining momentum online and calls on Premier Daniel Andrews to investigate the centre's practices.
So far, the petition has accrued more than 8,700 signatures, and that figure continues to rise.
Mr Tribe insisted rescue centres in North Melbourne, Cranbourne and Echuca have substantially reduced euthanasia rates and a review of policies and processes is continuing.
In a statement, Mr Tribe said: "We strive every day to treat every animal in our care with compassion and always work towards the best possible outcome for them.
"Sadly, in animal welfare organisations like ours, not all the animals that we receive are either able to be rehabilitated, or will be adopted.
"That means part of our role is the humane euthanasia of animals.
"Every one of us at The Lost Dogs’ Home loves animals, and every animal that is put to sleep is a tragedy."
Mr Tribe insisted the organisation will continue to reduce the number of animals put to sleep, through increased adoption and rehabilitation services.
News break – January 21