City rule could cost pet owners lots of money

Thursday, January 3rd 2008, 9:05 pm
By: News 9

By Amanda Taylor, NEWS 9

A city rule could cost pet owners a lot. If someone falsely accuses your animal of biting them, we found the city will still charge you. On average it's about $1,000.

Meet Buster.

A couple of years ago he was rescued from the city pound and found himself right at home with Sye Lane.

But now Buster's back in the shelter and for much different reason, a neighbor accused Buster of biting him. Animal control confined the dog, but Lane says the course case was thrown out on lack of evidence.

"The judge asked to see the marks, and he said well he didn't bite me," Lane said. "He barked at me, but he could have bit me. I could have bit you, you know what I mean?"

The judge signed an order for Buster to be released back to his family. But when Lane went to animal control he was greeted with a bill for about $1,000.

Animal Control Supervisor Rodney Pesch says a judge hears dangerous dog cases once a week. So it's common for a dog to stay in confinement for about a month before its case is heard. Each day the city charges a $29 fee. The city will bill you for it, whether you pick up your dog or not.

"My dog shouldn't have been in there, and I believe since the guy made us go through this, I think he should have to pay," Lane said.

And since Sye can't afford it, Buster was set to be euthanized.

Alarmed that this could happen to any pet owner, we went straight to the city's leaders.

"If your pet is accused of biting someone and it turns out it didn't bite anyone.. Then you're still responsible for what could easily be $1000," Amanda Taylor said.

We filled the city council in on Buster's story. We also wrote several letters, including one to the mayor's office. We're not exactly sure what happened but someone listened.

Buster is now home.

"She got a visit from the shelter saying we could come get our dog back," Lane said. "Whatever it was that you said or did, they said there were no charges at all, so that's a big relief."

Especially happy is four year old Brice Lane who tells us he missed playing with his friend.

And there's no doubt Buster agrees, he's happy to be back.

As far as we know, the city hasn't budged on their rule and they're still charging for shelter fees, even when a dog hasn't bitten anyone. If you'd like to see what else I said before the city council you can check out the entire video clip by clicking on the appropriate featured video link.

If you have a problem you'd like our Consumer Watch Team to investigate, give them a call at 841-9921.