A Mill End woman had to scour a caravan site to recover her lost dog after a policeman gave it to a stranger who claimed to know the owner.
The "distraught" owner learned that her 10-year-old dog, Kai, had been found in Rickmansworth High Street, only then to be given to a stranger by a PCSO.
Despite Kai being microchipped, he was not taken to a vets to have his details scanned.
After hours of searching, Sharon Norris tracked her dog to a Chorleywood farm where a stranger had been keeping Kai in his caravan.
The 57-year-old teacher lost her beloved pet while walking along the Grand Union Canal, near Rickmansworth, on Tuesday afternoon.
Kai, a Jack Russell Terrier cross, went off to explore but did not return.
When Ms Norris spoke with the police, they confirmed that a dog matching Kai’s description had been found and gave her the contact details of the lady who found him.
Ms Norris, of Maxwell Close, said: "When I spoke with the woman who found him she said she had been told by a PCSO to hand the dog over to a random guy who claimed to recognise the dog and know the owner.
"The police allowed my property to be taken by someone who couldn’t prove they owned it.
"I was distraught, gobsmacked and extremely worried. I’m still really angry. There were such little checks carried out by the police. I know they haven’t got a responsibility to look after dogs anymore but that responsibility is now passed to the dog warden.
"They can’t just give dogs over to someone who claims to know the owner. They shouldn’t just give it away. The police actually helped my dog get stolen.
"That is the horrifying thing. You hear all these stories about dogs being taken for dog fighting and this person just went off with my dog. I was in such a state."
Fortunately, the man who took Kai left his first name and the Chorleywood farm he was staying at.
At about 9pm, Ms Norris went to the farm in the hope of finding her beloved pet.
She said: "I was lucky. I found both the guy and Kai in a caravan. I went over to the caravan to knock on the window when I saw my dog. When the guy opened the window the dog jumped out into my arms. I was so relieved."
Ms Norris left with her dog but is still shocked at what might have happened to her pet.
Giles Cooper, Hertfordshire Constabulary spokesman, said: "A local PCSO came across a woman who had found a dog in Rickmansworth High Street Tuesday, August 19. Whilst it is not a remit for police to deal with lost dogs, the PCSO wanted to assist and started to look at options to help find its owner.
"A short time later the PCSO was approached by a man who claimed to know the dog’s owner. He gave his details, including an address, and took the dog. Subsequent enquiries by the owner of the dog resulted in them being reunited with their pet."