NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

February 22, 2013

Officials defend animal officer

Salisbury, Amesbury say allegations against Congdon unfounded

SALISBURY — Officials in Salisbury and Amesbury are coming to the defense of their joint animal control officer, Harold Congdon, amid allegations of improper behavior and mistreatment of animals broadcast in a Boston TV news report last week.

Salisbury Town Manager Neil Harrington said the news report was based on inaccurate information provided by disgruntled dog owners whose animals were picked up and held by Congdon following complaints against them.

Harrington said a tremendous amount of misinformation supplied to Fox 25 News served as the basis for the story.

“The people who went to Fox News about our animal control officer are people who neglected their own animals,” he said.

Harrington added that “key information” obtained from Amesbury Mayor Thatcher Kezer that could have vindicated Congdon was omitted from the report.

Congdon has been Salisbury’s part-time animal control officer for many years. Three years ago, he also assumed the role in Amesbury through a joint agreement between the two communities.

Congdon responds to complaints only when he is on duty from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and draws an annual salary of $19,500.

After hours, Congdon’s daughter, Tina Boucher, handles complaints on an on-call basis. She is paid on a fee-for-service basis, receiving $40 a call. If she has to take a dog in, she is paid a $50 animal pick-up fee, Harrington said.

In addition to serving as animal control officer, Congdon owns his own businesses, including a taxi service and auto salvage operation. He runs the businesses out of the same Elm Street location where he also houses the kennel for dogs that are confiscated in Salisbury.

Harrington believes the Boston station misrepresented the idea that the confiscated animals in Salisbury were being kept in the midst of a “junk yard.” He said the cars are on one side of the property, away from the kennel, which is on the other side.

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