UNITED KINGDOM – A family who was originally refused the location of their missing cat under the Data Protection Act have been reunited with their Bengal beauty after the keepers handed him back.
Karen Young, who is 41, and her three children celebrated their pet Tigger’s safe return this weekend, and he is now settling back into his home in Tamworth, Staffordshire.
Beauty worker Ms. Young stated: ‘We’re over the moon to have him home. It feels like he never left – he’s back sleeping in his usual spot, on my daughter, Carmen’s bed.
‘The kids were close to tears when I walked in the door with him. I’m glad the keepers decided to do the right thing and hand him back.
‘It’s been a nightmare few weeks, we thought we’d never see him again.’
After seeing Ms. Young’s appeal in the press, the people who held Tigger themselves decided to get in touch with her and reunite him with his rightful owner last Friday.
Karen had seven-year-old Bengal cat, Tigger, micro chipped when she first purchased him way back in 2009.
When the rare cat went missing back in 2012, Ms. Young and her children Carmen, who was then aged 13, Leon, 15 and Sam, 19 were devastated and searched for miles, as well as putting up posters in the area in a bid to see their beloved family pet return home.
However, just a few months later, they gave up all hope of finding him and reported him missing to their veterinary practice and microchip database, Petlog.
Three weeks ago when she received a letter from Petlog with a change in ownership request for Tigger, Ms. Young was obviously pleased to hear her cat was still alive.
She automatically assumed she would be reunited with the cat, but despite having all original ownership paperwork, including the pedigree certificate and receipt of purchase, Petlog refused to hand over any details of those who had Tigger.
And so, she was forced to report the theft to Staffordshire Police.
A spokesperson for Staffordshire Police on Friday stated:
‘Staffordshire Police was made aware of the incident involving the once, missing cat which has now ended up in the possession of, currently, unknown people or person.
‘Via a third party, this individual or individuals have been made aware that the cat in their possession has an owner and they should take appropriate steps to return the cat to its rightful owner.
‘We expect this to happen. Failure to do so could result in further police action.’
Thankfully, the keepers, who live just six miles from Ms. Young’s home, reached out to her and have since handed the cat back.
Ms. Young stated: ‘When I got in touch with Petlog and told them I was the owner and I wanted to be reunited with my missing cat, they refused to tell me who had him, due to data protection rules and instead said they’d pass on my details.
‘They told me it was up to the people who had him to get in touch with me. So essentially, it was out of my hands. I had no rights to my own cat.
‘I’m just glad the keepers did the right thing and realised how much misery they were causing us all, but it’s no thanks to Petlog.’
The woman who had Tigger would like to remain anonymous, claims to have bought him back in 2012.
She stated: ‘The lady who sold him to us said she was moving to a high rise flat, so she could no longer look after him.
‘She said she didn’t have the paperwork anymore but that he was a cross – a half tabby half Bengal.
‘I didn’t know anything about cat breeds at that time, so had no reason to suspect anything.’
According to the woman, in the four years she had Tigger, the vets she registered him with never scanned the cat for a microchip.
She is claiming she only discovered he had an owner when she couldn’t afford the vet fees and took him to the PDSA, a veterinary charity which offers free treatment for pets of people on benefits.
It was here Tigger was scanned and that’s when the keeper applied for the change in ownership.
And when Petlog got in touch to inform her that Tigger had an owner, she claims that they didn’t suggest it was important for her to contact the owners.
She stated: ‘Petlog told me it was up to me if I wanted to speak to the owners, but I didn’t have to if I didn’t want to.
‘To me, it didn’t sound like I had an obligation to.
‘If they had stressed how important it was then maybe I would have made an effort to.
‘As far as I was concerned he’d been part of my family for four years.
‘I was so sad to see him go.
‘We looked after him well and we are no thieves, we bought him in good faith.’
Mother-of-three Ms. Young still blames Petlog and insists, if it wasn’t for the media coverage and swift police action, she would never have seen Tigger again.
She stated: ‘The fact still remains that Petlog didn’t help me get Tigger back. The keepers would have continued to hide behind the Data Protection Act if they hadn’t have felt the pressure from the press and police to give him back.
‘It shouldn’t be that hard. I feel that they in no way protect the true owners.
‘Too many pet owners are going through this and are still battling to get their animals back.
‘It’s an unfair system that needs to change.’
In April this year it became mandatory for dog owners to ensure their pet is microchipped, however, it is not a legal requirement for cat owners to do so.
A SPOKESPERSON FROM PETLOG SAID:
‘A microchip registration should not be treated as proof of ownership, but rather it is a record of keepership i.e. where a pet animal normally resides and is intended to assist reunification if the pet goes missing. The primary role of Petlog is to reunite lost pets by holding up to date contact information on the database so that we can provide that information to those managing a reunification.
‘Legal ownership of a cat is not defined by law and micro-chipping is not proof of legal ownership. In cases where there is a legal dispute over ownership, and keepership issues arise, if the dispute cannot be reconciled by agreement between two conflicting parties, the dispute will become a civil matter for a court to decide.
‘In the case of stolen pets, the police will need to be informed. Petlog will work with the police and other relevant authorities to help reunite any pet but it is against Data Protection legislation to provide personal data to third parties and Petlog must work through authorised statutory agencies.’