How much would you spend to save your dogs’ lives if they were accused of being “vicious”? Caitlin McAdam has spent at least $10,000 to keep her dogs, Jake and Lucy, from being euthanized for allegedly killing a neighbor’s cat. The problem is, a good chunk of that money has gone toward simply keeping them alive long enough to get their day in court.
McAdam faces not just the normal legal fees that would come when defending a human being, but impoundment fees of $250 per week. At least when human beings go to jail, they don’t have to pay for the privilege. (Unless you count the consequences of suddenly not being able to go to work.) According to MoneyCNN, McAdam has so far spent $2,500 just on keeping the dogs impounded since animal control seized them in February. Even though her lawyer is doing some of the work pro bono, her legal fees amount to about $6,000. In addition, keeping the cat frozen (as evidence) and paying for autopsies has cost over $1,000.
To pay for all this, McAdam and her family have resorted to selling a car, using the money from their tax refund, and an online fundraiser. The latter was quite successful: From an original target of $4,000, it raised $7,908.
As of now, the dogs are home: The McAdam family worked out a “house arrest” arrangement with the authorities. Jake and Lucy are allowed to be at home as long as they wear muzzles when outside and are walked separately.
Caitlin McAdam says that her dogs couldn’t have killed the cat. “The dogs had not been out of the yard in a long time, and my husband was home with the dogs, a friend’s dog, and about seven other individuals…” she writes on her fundraising page. “Jake and Lucy were in the garage with him until at least 12 a.m., [and] the incident was said to take place around 11:30 p.m.” A judge is set to finalize a plea deal on Friday.
MoneyCNN has a fascinating article that says the problem goes way beyond the McAdams family. According to an article it published last month, there’s an increasing number of cases where dogs have been killed without any legal judgement — for merely not paying fines.
In a number of cities across the country, animal control agencies are aggressively going after pet owners with big fines for small violations. Some hold people’s pets until they settle their bills, even if it means they end up killed. Others leave the dogs alone but issue arrest warrants for owners who can’t pay up.
The infractions can include failing to license a pet, owning a dog that barks a lot, or accidentally letting an animal get loose in the neighborhood. But the penalties are serious, often amounting to hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
What do you think? Are the expenses faced by the McAdams family a reasonable way of keeping the community safe, or is it a case of bureaucracy taking precedence over justice?
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