A woman whose cat was found four years after he went missing has been told that she will not be reunited with her beloved pet due to data protection laws.
Karen Young’s Bengal cat Tigger disappeared in 2012, three years after she microchipped the animal after purchasing it for £800.
The 41-year-old was contacted by microchip database Petlog three weeks ago, requesting a change of ownership.
Young thought she would be reunited with Tigger, but Petlog refused to tell her who now had her cat due to the Data Protection Act.
The incident has been reported to police, who said the cat should be returned to his owner and failure to do so could result in further action.
Young, from Tamworth, Staffordshire, said: “I couldn’t believe it when I discovered Tigger was still alive. It’d been so long that I had given up all hope of seeing him again. Me and my kids were over the moon and were relieved he was ok.
“But when I got in touch with Petlog and told them I was the owner and I wanted to be reunited with my 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. But they still haven’t, and they continue to withhold him. It’s disgusting.
“Essentially the system is pointless if your pet falls into dishonest hands.”
Young has three children, Carmen, 13, Leon, 15 and Sam,19. She said that Petlog was “very insenstive” to her plight and kept referring to Tigger’s keepers as his “owners”.
“I was furious”, she said.
“I called a number of times, but they kept telling me they were bound by the Data Protection Act, so I couldn’t force their hand - even though I was in tears,” she added.
Young reported her cat stolen to Staffordshire Police. The force are currently requesting the details of Tigger’s current keepers from Petlog.
Young called microchipping “a scam”, adding: “I paid for a service I’m not receiving. It’s a mockery and protects criminals.”
A spokesperson for 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 microchipping 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.
“Petlog cannot make any adjudication regarding a dispute over ownership but will update the keeper’s record as appropriate once a dispute has been settled.”
In April it became compulsory for dog owners to microchip their pet.
A Staffordshire Police spokesman said: “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 the 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.”