Shellharbour City Council will examine its lines of communication with the RSPCA after the community raised hundreds of dollars to release a dog that was apparently never meant to be impounded.
The dog, a Maltese terrier called Miss Lilly, was returned to Warilla mum Carol-Lee Carroll's seven-year-old son Jack Podesta amid much fanfare on Tuesday.
But a brouhaha erupted on social media on Wednesday night after the stories of the reunion appeared in the media.
On Facebook, Shellharbour City Council announced the dog had been returned to Ms Carroll free of charge as "council and the RSPCA had agreed to waive the fees many days before she was collected".
Ms Carroll and her supporters reacted angrily, saying the mum-of-two had appealed to a council staffer to waive the fees on compassionate grounds soon after the dog escaped on May 16, but had been told all but the $180 registration fee - which could be repaid in instalments - would need to be paid up front.
Ms Carroll told the Mercury she was unable to pay the fees, and took to social media asking if someone could adopt the dog so it would not be destroyed.
The appeal prompted supporters to start a fund-raising effort.
Ms Carroll said she phoned the RSPCA on Monday to say the fund-raiser had succeeded.
She paid the total to Wollongong Animal Rescue Network on Monday afternoon and posted the receipt online for supporters to see, explaining that the not-for-profit group would pay at the collection point, as it would take five days for the donated funds to reach her own bank account
Ms Carroll said she learnt when collecting the dog that the fees had been waived, and she had since made arrangements for the donated funds to go towards improving the home of a child with special needs.
Shellharbour City Council issued a statement on Thursday following a meeting with Ms Carroll.
"It is clear that there is a difference of opinion around the information provided in relation to waiving the fees for the release of the dog known as Miss Lilly," the statement read.
"As a result of this incident, Council will now establish protocols with the RSPCA to enable a better flow of information between the organisations in relation to the waiving of fees."
‘‘Council is sincerely sorry that this situation has caused Ms Carroll any grief. Council always seeks to act with compassion in circumstances such as this, and is always willing to consider removing fees and charges to help people in need.
‘‘Council is proud of its high success rate of rehoming lost animals, in comparison to other local government areas. It is inspiring to see the level of support for Ms Carroll and her family and praise everyone in the community that rallied."