A nurse who feared her Jack Russell had been dog-napped has been handed a £151 bill after a stranger collected him from outside her house and handed him over to authorities.

Donna Raine, 41, was told by neighbours that a woman driving a 4X4 collected her pet, Barney, from outside her home in Penn Road, Rickmansworth, on Wednesday last week and was heard to call the dog by his name.

Mrs Raine noticed Barney was missing around half an hour later at 3pm but said she only began to worry when he had not returned a couple of hours later.

She said: "He normally just mooches about on the pavement then comes back home when he is bored.

"By 5pm we were starting to get worried because he had never been away that long before."

Eventually she contacted the Chess Veterinary Surgery in Rickmansworth where staff said Barney had been brought in that afternoon but was handed over directly to a Three Rivers District Council animal control warden.

However, by the time she had discovered this and contacted the council at 5.30pm the dog warden had already gone home - leaving her facing an uncomfortable night without him.

Council documents show the officer set off to transport Barney to the kennel at 4.05pm and was called 15 minutes later with a name and address of the owner but as she didn’t have a phone number and had left the area, she proceeded to the kennel before finishing work at 5pm.

Mrs Raine says she is furious she was not contacted before the dog warden went home as Barney has a microchip under his skin which contains her contact details.

She said: "I was upset and angry about this, nobody from Three Rivers District Council made any attempt to contact me on Wednesday despite being given my details at 4.20pm.

"I have had to pay £151 to get him back - a huge amount of money.

"I want to know why nobody contacted us; this issue could have been resolved very easily had someone done their job properly."

She complained to the council but an investigation found the company responsible for the chip did not hold a telephone number for her and she was told the fine would stand.

In an email response to the complaint, Geof Muggeridge, director of community and environmental services, said: "It is the responsibility of a dog owner to ensure that their dog is properly ID’d and not allowed to stray.

"If Barney’s details had been sent to the database in 2008 and he had a tag on with contact details, it is likely that he would have been returned the afternoon he strayed.

"I consider that in the absence of these the animal control officer made every reasonable effort to ascertain the owner’s details including going further than normal practice in requesting a track back to the implanter of a microchip."