Stuff that matters

A heartbroken teenager whose dog went missing has been forced to pay the council more than £200 to get him back. Darcy Jones, 17, from Stockport, Greater Manchester, was devastated when her Yorkshire terrier named Mooch vanished.

Thankfully, the lost pooch was found one day later by dog wardens, but Darcy was told she’d have to find £147.50 to bring him home. Stuck without the cash, it took Darcy and her family 12 days to gather up the money, at which point the fee had rose to £207.50. Darcy said: “I’m just so pleased to have him back, but the way we have been treated is appalling.”

“I didn’t sleep for days, it’s been so traumatic. Mooch has been with me for 10 years since he was a puppy and he’s my best friend,” she explained.

Darcy feared that Mooch could be rehomed if she didn’t find the money quick enough.

“That really upset me and I couldn’t stop crying,” she said.

Mooch wasn’t microchipped but she proved the pooch was hers straight away due to his collar and tag.

“The wardens insisted on this money and I just didn’t have it, but they wouldn’t listen,” Darcy explained.

“I asked if they could wait until pay day. They said ‘no’.”

On October 4, after finally collecting the cash, Darcy and Mooch were reunited in an emotion moment captured on camera.

In the clip, Darcy has a huge smile on her face and Mooch can be seen excitedly jumping all over her.

Darcy’s aunt Hayley McCabe said: “I never knew and it seems like a big con to me, just another way to make money.

“And in these tough times, who can afford to pay out over £200 just to get your own dog back?

“The whole thing is disgusting and the public need to be made aware this sort of thing is going on.”

Mark Glynn director of place management at Stockport Council, said: “We can confirm that Mooch has now been returned to the owner.

“On September 23, animal wardens were contacted by a concerned resident who then picked up Mooch without an electronic chip or collar. They acted on behalf of the council and Mooch was taken to the kennels.

“We encourage all dog owners to microchip their dogs for free via the Dogs Trust so that we can return dogs to their owners immediately and without the cost of kennels.

“The council is, of course, sympathetic to dog owners. However, our duty of care is always to the animal, and the measures in place are to protect the animal’s welfare, as is our legal duty.”

The council charges a £78 fee for returning a found dog, this rises to £147.50 after one day in kennels. It goes up £10 per day up to one week.