A FAMILY claim their pedigree pet has been “dognapped” by a Scottish council.
Kevin Woodward and his wife returned from a trip to the United States to discover their beloved pooch no longer legally belonged to them.
Lilly, a Lhasa Apso worth £500, had been picked up off the street as a stray and after seven days became the property of the kennels to which it was sent.
Distraught Kevin, from Cowdenbeath,Fife, fears Lilly may already have been sold to another owner and said his family were being “tortured”.
Kevin and his wife travelled to New York for a short break last month, leaving Lilly and their four children with grandparents in nearby Crossgates.
Lilly managed to get out of the property and was picked up by a council dog warden in the same street.
The seven-year-old was taken to private kennels in Cupar.
The worried grandfather Alex Johnston, 65, tracked Lilly down to the kennels and was told by staff that if he wanted to pick her up that day he would have to pay £60, money the pensioner did not have.
Kevin returned from holiday and went to the kennels to release Lilly, only to find the charge had gone up to £120 and he did not have enough cash to pay.
He says staff at Union Farm Boarding Kennel refused even to let him see the dog, and have rebuffed his attempts to find out where it is.
The kennel said the dog legally became theirs after seven days.
Mr Woodward, 32, said the family was heartbroken.
“We don’t even know if it’s still at the kennels or been re-homed. The kids ask me every day what’s happening about Lilly and it’s torture. I just have to tell them I’m doing everything I can.”
He added: “Hayden, our oldest, actually said to me ‘Dad, if it’s an issue of money I’ll go without Christmas presents.’
“He’s been crying about it. It’s absolutely heartbreaking.
“My family are in a lot of pain. My dad is absolutely devastated about what happened too.”
The self-employed decorator has submitted a formal complaint to Fife council over the matter.
He said: “The woman at the kennel would not even let me see the dog so it has never been formally identified as our pet,” he said.
“It was just because we were straight back from holiday that I couldn’t pay on the spot.”
“I run my own business and the normal thing would be to let you take the dog and send you an invoice which I would have paid the next week.
Local councillor Alex Rowley criticised the council for washing their hands of the matter once a dog was handed over to private kennels.
He said: “The council need to accept a bit more responsibility for dealing with members of the public.
“Given the current economic climate I think it is wrong that the meter has been allowed to keep running, clocking up a massive bill for the family and indeed now posing a real threat to the future of the family pet.”
Roddy Mann, Fife Council’s operation manager, said: “When dogs are picked up they are taken to one of two private kennels in Fife who are contracted to look after stray dogs and try to trace their owners or re-home them.
“When someone collects a lost dog, the kennel operators collect a £50 fee on behalf of the council, plus £10 per night for their kennelling costs.”
When contacted this week (wed) Union Farm Boarding Kennel declined to comment, and said the issue was a matter for the council. They would not confirm if Lilly was still there.