NASHUA — Despite a pending lawsuit against the city regarding the impounding of cats, city officials have approved a new contract with the Humane Society for Greater Nashua to impound select animals.
“The contract does suggest that, under certain circumstances, that it is possible the city would pick up cats — it is not the city practice to do so,” Mayor Jim Donchess said.
On Wednesday, the aldermanic finance committee voted to renew its contract with the humane society at a cost of $99,081.
There are certain times, according to Donchess, when select animals should be picked up and taken to the shelter, specifically when the animals display health issues, like suspected cases of rabies.
Earlier this year, Gary Braun, a resident of Monza Road, sued the city and the mayor claiming the seizure and impounding of his cat in 2017 was illegal and violated the Constitution.
“The city can’t spend taxpayer money to pay police to impound cats, and they can’t contract and pay a third party to hold them,” Braun said recently, adding he is disappointed that the matter has progressed this far.
Braun’s cat was temporarily impounded at the Humane Society for Greater Nashua after being considered a stray.
“Neither the ordinance, nor applicable state law, permits the defendants to seize, trap, take into custody or impound felines on the basis that a cat is a stray or is running at large,” Braun states in court documents.
Last week, Alderman Michael O’Brien said he supports the renewed contract with the Humane Society. Even if the animals are not a nuisance, he said they sometimes get into areas where they shouldn’t be and there needs to be an avenue to remove them.
Alderman Patricia Klee has proposed an amendment to clarify the city’s existing ordinance regarding the impounding of dogs, cats, ferrets and chickens found at large in the city.
If approved, the new ordinance would state that cats, dogs or ferrets may be impounded if a dog officer or other authorized person has reason to believe the animal is a stray. The ordinance also would state that any cat or ferret that is off the premises of its owner and is either a nuisance or is suspected of being diseased or injured may be impounded by the city.
“It is a critical factor in keeping our residents safe that this (amended ordinance) goes forward,” Dr. Stephanie Wolf-Rosenblum of Rosenblum Group Healthcare Consulting told aldermen.
According to a memo from the city’s health officer, the Humane Society has provided shelter, isolation, quarantine and impounding services to the Gate City for more than 20 years.
Still, Braun claims that the city’s expenditure of taxpayer funds for the purposes of impounding a stray or roaming cat is an illegal and unconstitutional use of taxpayer money.