A dog lover from Carrickstone has blasted the system for returning stray dogs to their owners as “emotional blackmail”.
Lorna Norris owns Lucy, a 14-year-old collie cross.
Lucy escaped from home and even though Lorna immediately went looking for her she was unable to find her pet.
A few hours later she got a call from NLC saying Lucy had been picked up by the warden.
Lorna, who had been traced through Lucy’s microchip, was told she had five days to pay a £125 recovery fee or Lucy would be handed over to the Dogs’ Trust for rehoming.
Lorna paid £60 to rehome Lucy from a shelter five years ago.
Being an older dog, Lucy did not actually wander far from home and was picked up around 250 metres away.
Lorna said: “I am in the very fortunate position that I have some savings and was therefore able to pay this fee at such short notice.
“But for a typical family on an average single income of around £18,000 that is a big chunk of their monthly income and they might be unable to pay such an amount, especially if it is unexpected.
“I feel this is extortion and emotional blackmail by the council, after all a dog is a member of your family.
“Animal charities have to fight for cash to look after dogs that have no home to go to, while councils are dumping pets on them that have caring homes and owners who want them back.”
A spokeswoman for North Lanarkshire Council said: “Like all local authorities, North Lanarkshire Council is legally obliged to uplift stray dogs, which are then housed in private kennels until the owner can be traced.
“The reclaiming fee of £125 contributes in part to the cost of looking after the dog. “The fee was set in April 2010 and has not been increased since then.”
The Dogs’ Trust shelter in Uddingston was mentioned as a potential location for Lucy to be taken if Lorna did not pay the recover fee.
A spokeswoman for the animal charity said: “When a stray dog is cared for by the local authority dog warden service, owners have seven days to reclaim their dog before it is either rehomed directly, taken to a local rescue centre to be rehomed or sadly, in some cases, put to sleep by the local authority if no home can be found.
“Due to limited council resources, owners are required by law to pay a fee to claim back their dog.
“The fee is set at each council’s discretion.”