MANY families find it hard when a beloved pet goes missing.
But when Tina and Stephen Denton’s dog ran away their problems began after she had been found.
When Cooney managed to escape from her kennel, she was “held to ransom” by the Vale of White Horse District Council, according to the couple.
The council demanded that the Sutton Courtenay residents pay hundreds of pounds to get her back, despite tracking the dog down minutes after she had vanished.
Bricklayer Mr Denton said: “About an hour after Cooney ran off, a girl in Milton had found her about a mile down the road and put it up on Facebook.
“We got in touch but she’d already phoned the dog warden who picked the dog up.”
When the 53-year-old rang the warden, he was told that, because it was a weekend, the council would not reveal where Cooney was or how to pick her up until Monday.
Mrs Denton, 45, added: “On Monday they said we needed to pay £170 if we were going to get the dog back.
The accountant added: “It’s unbelievable, why should we pay that amount of money when we knew where she was an hour later? It’s disgusting.”
Initially the couple refused to pay the money, but were persuaded once the council told them that four-year-old Cooney could be rehoused or even put down if they didn’t pay.
Mr Denton said: “ We got a letter from them saying if you don’t come and pick it up, we may put it down and it will cost you £385 for expenses.
“We ended up paying for her six days after she ran off and it cost £215.
“It doesn’t sound legal, they’re holding a dog to ransom. I didn’t know things like this could go on in this country.”
Cooney, an Airedale terrier, managed to clamber over a 6ft fence in her bid for freedom.
Mr Denton, dad to two-year-old Beau, said: “We have five dogs but this one is a nightmare. She can get out of anywhere.
“She’s microchipped and everything.
“If the council wanted to do a good service they should pick up dogs, read the chip and get in contact with you and you pay £50.”
In the last year 83 people have had to pay at least £120 to get their dogs back from the Vale of White Horse District Council.
It keeps dogs for seven days, with fees increasing by £15 every day.
Council spokeswoman Natalie Ellis said: “These charges cover the services of our contractors, including kennelling, and the statutory fee.
“Our charges are set at the lowest possible cost to cover service delivery.
“We have an arrangement with our kennels for rehoming unclaimed strays after they have been kept for seven days — a dog will normally only be put down on veterinary advice to avoid suffering.”
- IN the city of Oxford if your dog is microchipped or has an identification tag then it will be returned to you for free. If it is taken to kennels it will cost £120 to retrieve it, unless you are on benefits where it will be cut to £60.
- South Oxfordshire District Council automatically takes all dogs to kennels whether they have identification or not. It then costs owners at least £120 to reclaim their dog.
- West Oxfordshire District Council takes all dogs to kennels where owners will then have seven days to claim their pet. Owners will have to pay at least £70 to pick up the dog, or more to have it delivered to their home.
- Cherwell District Council only charge for dogs that cannot be identified and have to be sent to kennels. It charges at least £64, with that cost being doubled if the dog is picked up out of office hours.
- Our top stories: