Father outraged by lost dog stealth tax

PUBLISHED: 07:20 17 August 2006 | UPDATED: 09:47 31 May 2010

Murphy the Jack Russell who went missing last Thursday

Murphy the Jack Russell who went missing last Thursday

A DOG owner from Saffron Walden is seething after Uttlesford District Council handed him a £50 bill for finding his Jack Russell, Murphy, after he went missing last Thursday. Jon Stebbings, 46, of Little Walden Road, is staggered the council can charge ex

A DOG owner from Saffron Walden is seething after Uttlesford District Council handed him a £50 bill for finding his Jack Russell, Murphy, after he went missing last Thursday.

Jon Stebbings, 46, of Little Walden Road, is staggered the council can charge extra for a service, which he believes he pays his council tax for.

He said: "It is absolutely outrageous the council can charge for providing a service that I have already paid for, and a service that I didn't even ask for.

"I have lived in the town and paid my council tax for 20 years and I think it's a rip-off that I have to pay a considerable sum to get my dog back.

"Me and my partner and daughter love Murphy, so I am forced to pay the charge, but I am exceedingly angry the council has held my dog to ransom."

Mr Stebbings, whose house backs onto fields, noticed Murphy was missing at 9.30am and spent an hour searching for him. Unbeknown to him, someone had found him and handed him into the police station at 11am.

"After looking for an hour, I had to go to work and I planned to come home at lunchtime to scour the area again. I did not ask the council to search for my dog.

"We only purchased him a few weeks away and he has an electronic chip implanted in him with the previous owner's address on it, so I got a call from them saying the dog warden had found Murphy at 11am.

"When I rang the council, I was told he had been taken to kennels in Little Hallingbury and I would have to pay to get him back."

Mr Stebbings admits he hasn't had time to update the chip, but says that wouldn't have prevented Murphy being taken to a kennel.

"To be landed with what is basically a stealth tax, is totally unreasonable and should not be allowed as council tax is supposed to be all encompassing and pay for all of the services the council has to offer.

"If your child went missing and the police knocked on your door saying they had found him or her, but you had to pay to have them back, you would be outraged because you have already paid for the police in your council tax."

A UDC spokesman said: "Owning a dog is a choice, therefore the council believes it is unreasonable to ask council tax payers as a whole to contribute to the animal warden service.

"UDC does not make a penny from the charge, with £25 going straight to the government and the remainder going to the kennels to pay for the dog's upkeep whilst it is there.

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