DOG-OWNERS who had to pay almost £100 to get their micro-chipped pet back were angered at Cornwall Council's handling of the situation.
Jaydena and Gareth Pryor, of Penrose Terrace, Penzance, lost their two-and-a-half-year-old black labrador-lurcher, Kiely, at about 5pm last Wednesday.
She is tagged and micro-chipped, but the couple said no-one contacted them, contrary to advice given on the council's website, incurring them extra expense and worry.
Mrs Pryor said: "We were frantic – it was the first time she has disappeared. My husband chased round the streets and down to the prom while a friend searched on the beach at Long Rock. I was phoning all the local vets to find out if she'd been handed in.
"At around 7.30pm, I contacted the dog warden service and they said they had a dog matching Kiely's description found in nearby Bread Street and being taken to a kennels in Truro.
"The dog warden manager said the dog had not been scanned for a microchip but there was no tag on the dog."
The Pryors were reunited with Kiely at 11.30am the next day in Penzance but are asking why the warden failed to follow the council's own guidelines.
Its website says: "All dogs found or handled by one of the Dog Welfare and Enforcement Officers are scanned for a microchip, and where they are microchipped the owner is contacted to arrange return of their dog.
"Where the owner can be contacted immediately, the dog is released and no kennel charges are normally incurred (although a release fee of £40 will be incurred)."
Mrs Pryor said: "The microchip had our address, our home and mobile phone numbers. She was found just round the corner, so if Kiely had been scanned we could have had her back in two minutes.
"We were worried sick and then had to pay £99 – £40 release fee, £35 for out of hours and £24 for two days' fee at the kennels.
"We are so happy to have Kiely back but it does seem that the council is trying to make as much money out of the service as possible. Why do we get charged for two days' fee at the kennels? Kiely was only there for around 12 hours.
"We have done everything in order to make sure she is safe and well looked after. We cannot understand why procedure that is clearly stated on the Cornwall Council website was not followed."
A spokesman for Cornwall Council said it does not return pets outside of normal office hours, to ensure the safety of its staff and allow them to give owners advice.
It added: "All seized dogs should be scanned for the presence of a microchip ... as contact can then be made with the owners.
"During the day we will attempt to make contact to reunite the dog with its owner but when a micro-chipped dog is found out of hours, we will contact the owners to reassure them that their dog is safe and make arrangements for collection on the next working day.
"If this procedure was not followed in this case we would ask the family to contact our enforcement team so that we can investigate this further."
It also said it was charged "per day or part day for kennelling" and the out of hour's charge covers the collection service.