When Nicola Bayston’s two dogs went missing, she did what many pet owners do in such circumstances – put up posters seeking help.
But now she faces the prospect of being fined up to £75,000.
Her local council has launched a crackdown on lost pet posters, issuing £75 fixed penalty fines – and Mrs Bayston has put up 1,000 in a desperate bid to find her dogs.
Devastated: Nicola Bayston put up 1,000 posters in an attempt to find her dogs, only to be threatened with a huge fine for fly-posting
The 33-year-old vet and her husband Richard were distraught when their Patterdale terriers, Jess, five, and Bramble, three, disappeared.
Immediately they had the ‘missing’ posters printed showing pictures of the dogs and offering a £1,000 reward.
But council officials have warned the couple they have until October 27 to take down the posters which have been put up near their home in South Hiendley, South Yorkshire.
Mrs Bayston said: ‘Our dogs went missing on September 5 after they were let out into a field. Jess is Bramble’s mother. She tunnelled under a fence and they both ran off.
‘We couldn’t believe that the council would threaten us with such a massive fine. I was about to put up more posters offering an even bigger reward. These people are just jobsworths.
‘Initially we offered a £1,000 reward for the return of Jess and Bramble and we were preparing to increase that to £2,000.
Missing: Jess, the five-year-old Patterdale terrier, is one of Mrs Bayston's missing pets
‘We’ve had people phone us with false stories about where the dogs are and one man phoned to say he had the dogs and would give them back to us if we paid him £2,000.’
Wakefield Council said there had been several complaints about the posters appearing on lamp-posts.
Glynn Humphries, the council’s service director, said: ‘While we sympathise with Mr and Mrs Bayston, flyposting is an offence which carries a £75 fixed penalty fine – though we do permit, for example, pictures of missing persons and community events.
‘Lost or stolen pets is something we don’t permit as the posters are invariably of poor quality and can result in large amounts of litter.
‘These particular posters have been in place now for five weeks and we do not think it is unreasonable to ask that they be removed.
‘It is not an issue of being heartless but if we were to permit all posters of this type we would be inundated with thousands of posters across the district which clearly is not acceptable.
‘We would be happy to discuss the matter further with Mr and Mrs Bayston if they wish to contact us.’
Jayne Hayes, of national charity DogLost, which helps reunite pets and owners, criticised the council. She said: ‘I wonder how the councillors behind this decision would feel if they were threatened with being fined for putting up posters everywhere when they are trying to get elected.
‘I think the council is taking a very hard line and should reconsider its decision. Unfortunately councils are cracking down more and more on this kind of thing but in cases where dogs are genuinely missing it is very upsetting for the owners.’