NASHUA — A local resident has filed a civil lawsuit against the city after the police department’s animal control officer picked up the resident’s cat and took it to a shelter.
Gary Braun of Monza Road recently sued the city and Mayor Jim Donchess, claiming the seizure and impoundment of his cat in 2017 was illegal and unconstitutional, according to court records.
“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 on Wednesday, adding he is disappointed that the matter has progressed this far.
Braun’s cat was temporarily impounded at The Humane Society for Greater Nashua on the basis that the cat was a stray, or running at large, according to the complaint filed at Hillsborough County Superior Court South in Nashua.
“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.
He claims the city’s expenditure of taxpayer funds for the purposes of illegally impounding a stray or roaming cat is an illegal and unconstitutional use of taxpayer money.
In court documents, Braun says he met with Donchess and the city’s legal counsel about the issue prior to filing the lawsuit.
Since his cat was impounded, the city initially revised a contract with the humane society but later reverted the document to again allow cats to be impounded if they are deemed to be strays, which Braun believes is an illegal provision.
In addition, Braun claims that both Donchess and Steve Bolton, the city’s legal counsel, promised him that city police would not further impound any cat if it was running at large or was considered a stray.
“The city is not in the business of picking up cats,” Donchess said last week. “We tried to work this out.”
Donchess said officials tried to remedy the situation with Braun, explaining an animal control officer originally picked up Braun’s cat after receiving a complaint from a neighbor. If there are health concerns regarding cats, specifically rabies or other health issues, Donchess said cats are sometimes collected and impounded.
Attorney Celia Leonard, deputy corporation counsel for the city, has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. She explains in court records that Braun “allowed one of his cats to roam unfettered outside in the public right of way and on the private property of others.”
A neighbor then caught the cat in a have-a-heart trap, and called the city’s animal control officer requesting that it be transported to the humane society, which is what ultimately occurred.
Leonard stressed that the humane society returned the cat, unharmed, to Braun.
“Cats can contract and transmit rabies. Having a population of abandoned, hurt or feral cats, or cats that are allowed to roam without check or recourse on public lands and other peoples’ yards can reasonably be viewed as a nuisance and potential health threat to the city’s human population,” argued Leonard, adding that the city and the mayor did not act outside the scope of their authority.
A court hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 5 to determine whether the lawsuit should be dismissed.
“I am going all the way now. I do not intend to back down until I have a final ruling,” said Braun.