Troy has a contract with the Humane Society. The city pays the shelter $275 for each dog sent to the shelter via Animal Control (aka Doggie Po-Po, Animal Controlo).
To redeem an animal, a citizen pays the City clerk the appropriate amount, receives a receipt, and then takes their pup home. That's the way it works in most municipalities.
Last Thursday the full Council met to discuss legislation that would clarify what a person owed the city if their doggie was impounded. The City wants to (and since April does) charge each person $325. The proposition was voted down and it will not leave the Finance Committee.
Meanwhile the Clerks Office is charging a flat, $325 fee for doggie redemption. The City says it will continue to charge $325. Jeff Buell went on to say the legislation only clarified ambiguities in the City Charter so the practice will continue:
"The charter does not say we can and does not say we can't so the policy remains in effect." -Jeff Buell, The Record, 8/25/08, p. 6.
This time the administration has a valid point. The doggie ordinance is ambiguous. The existing law is quite confusing, especially if you're a first-time offender.
E. Redemption; fees.
Any dog seized for any violation of this chapter or Article 7 of the Agriculture and Markets Law may be redeemed by the owner at the place of impoundment within seven days for licensed dogs and five for unlicensed dogs by producing a valid license and paying the required redemption fee. Redemption fees are $50 for the first impoundment of any dog owned by that person; $75 for the first 24 hours or part thereof and $3 for each additional 24 hours or part thereof for the second impoundment within one year of the first impoundment of any dog owned by that person; or $100 for the first 24 hours or part thereof and $3 for each additional 24 hours or part thereof for the third and subsequent impoundment within one year of the first impoundment of any dog owned by that person. [Amended 5-3-2001 by Ord. No. 7]
First, "$50 for the first impoundment of any dog...." Is that $50 US dollars? Canadian? New Zealand Dollars? And what dog? Any dog? Or a particular dog? We simply do not know under the existing, ambiguous, Code.
Next, what exactly does it mean to redeem a dog? Redemption has many meanings:
1) To recover ownership by paying a sum
2) To set free, rescue or ransom
3) To save from sin and it's consequences
4) To restore one's reputation, honor or dignity
The Code cannot mean #1 because $50 is not $325. What about #2? To set free? Probably not because that's how the dog got in trouble in the first place.
How about #3 or #4? Saving your dog from sin or restoring it's reputation, honor or dignity? For a mere $50? That's quite a bargain.
The Code sets forth the amount it costs citizens to redeem their pooch. There are no ambiguities. The city wants to charge people the cost to the city as well as the fine set forth in the law. That's fine. Personally, we could care less. Change the law. They tried to change the law. They failed. Now they will simply ignore the law.
Once again, Tutunjian proves incapable of performing the fundamental duty of his office: enforcing the law. A duty so fundamental that it is the first mayoral duty listed in the City Charter.