Trying to comply with the law apparently can land you in jail in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Becky Rehr went to the sheriff’s office to show authorities she had paid her dog license, but instead of being thanked for doing the right thing, the surgical nurse and soccer mom was booked into the county jail for not paying it on time.
“They frisked me and put me in this intake cell with all these inmates in orange jumpsuits,” Rehr said of county sheriff’s deputies. “I was pretty nervous.”
She told the Kalamazoo Gazette, “I already had the license and I’m a law-abiding citizen.”
Criminal Record for Unpaid Dog License?
Rehr’s ordeal began after she waited too long to renew the license for the family’s 11-year-old springer/border collie mix. When she learned that an arrest warrant had been issued for her, she paid the fee and took the receipt to the sheriff’s office on June 23 to let the officers know she had paid the fee. Instead of getting the matter cleared up, Rehr was fingerprinted, received a mug shot, and held for three hours until she was released on bail.
Her 14-year-old daughter was waiting in the car outside, and the two had planned to enjoy a day of shopping. Failure to renew a dog license is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $100 fine in Kalamazoo County, the newspaper reported.
Rehr has no criminal record and even serves as manager of her daughter’s soccer team.
Her hospital co-workers “think I’m kidding. They think there’s no way this is how we’re spending our tax dollars.”
Kalamazoo County issues four or five arrest warrants each month for having an unpaid dog license, said Steve Lawrence, the director of County Animal Control. Animal Control had sent Rehr a number of warnings.
“We’re not looking to punish people,” Lawrence said. “We’re just looking for people to get their dog license.”
Said Rehr, “I had every intention of taking care of it, but with the end of the school year and my job, it just totally got put on the back burner.”
The charges against Rehr were eventually dropped after a story about the incident appeared in the local newspaper.
Kalamazoo is not the only place where people can be arrested for unpaid dog licenses. Cancer patient Ann Musser of Holyoke, Massachusetts, was handcuffed and jailed for not paying a $5 dog license fee in March. Like Rehr, Musser had paid the fee and a fine before she was jailed over the incident.
Another Massachusetts resident, Sylvia Buzzell, was arrested in front of her children at 10 p.m. because she had failed to pay an $8 dog license fee in Belchertown, Mass.
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