A firm used to clear livestock from public land has impounded three horses – demanding almost £5,000 for their return.
PPS removed the animals from a field off Old Run Road in Belle Isle on behalf of Leeds City Council, who say they were tethered there illegally.
But devastated owners Victoria Bailey, 31, of Windmill Road, and Charlie Thackray, say they cannot afford to pay for their return.
Council bosses are standing their ground, arguing all owners were warned of the consequences of keeping animals on the public grassland.
A spokeswoman for Leeds City Council said: “We have received regular complaints about horses being left at this site, both from members of the public and council staff.
“Notices to ask the owners to remove the horses from this council-owned land were put up on four separate occasions in October and November.
“As these notices were not heeded, we instructed our contractor to remove the horses from the land.”
Victoria, who has kept Bobby, six, and Roany, two, on the patch of land for the last two years said the amount they charged was disproportionate.
But the city council spokeswoman said it covered livery costs, vets bills, transport, and any items needed, such as a halter. The horses will be sold or rehomed if not paid for.
Victoria said: “I didn’t get a warning. I went to see them in the morning to take some hay and water and they were gone.
“I then noticed Charlie’s horse was also missing. I thought they’d been stolen.
“I called Charlie and we followed their tracks and muck and saw they’d been taken across the field, through bushes and trees, across Middleton Railway and through an industrial estate where they must have been loaded into a trailer as there were vehicle tracks and hay.”
It was then that Victoria and Charlie saw a laminated notice ‘thrown on the floor’.
It told them the horses had been removed and ‘the legal owners’ must apply for their return.
Victoria said: “I thought there might be some kind of fine, perhaps a couple of hundred pounds, but they want £3,560.
“Between us we will pay almost £5,000”
PPS intended to impound a further six horses also found grazing on the Old Run Road fields, but they were moved by their owners before they managed to return.
They only had capacity to remove three at a time.