, Newburyport, MA

Local News

February 22, 2013

Officials defend animal officer

Salisbury, Amesbury say allegations against Congdon unfounded


“I got calls from people asking me why stray dogs were kept in junk cars,” Harrington said. “I told them the dogs weren’t being kept in junk cars. ... But all the Fox News people filmed were the junk cars.”

Harrington said the Fox News report failed to differentiate between boarding fees, paid to Congdon and Boucher for housing confiscated dogs, and fines, which go to the town.

“The town (of Salisbury) doesn’t have its own kennel, so Harold keeps the dogs he picks up for us at his kennel, and that’s why boarding fees go directly to him,” Harrington said. “The (Fox News) report mixed boarding fees and fines. They’re two different things.”

Amesbury contracts with a private kennel for the dogs picked up in its city. Boarding fees are paid to the kennel — not the city or the dog officer — before the animals are released.

Congdon appears to have come to the attention of Fox News after being contacted by Salisbury reident Leslie Hinton, whose boxer, Shelby, was confiscated twice, the second time resulting in Congdon getting the dog adopted.

In the Fox News report, Hinton claimed her dog was picked up for no reason, adding she was charged a lot of money in fees — “over a grand” on one occasion — which she said she was told to give to Boucher, not the town.

Hinton also depicted Congdon’s kennel as “horrible,” adding he and Boucher didn’t care about dogs, only about getting money for boarding them.

Congdon’s written reports on the Hinton incidents are quite different. In them, he says he took action against Hinton and Shelby only after police called animal control on two separate occasions following complaints from neighbors.

The first time, Boucher found the boxer in the street in violation of the town’s leash law, and took it to Congdon’s kennel. By the time the owner called five days later, the bill was $275 — $50 for the pick-up fee and $45 a day kennel fees. Harrington said the fees were owned to Boucher and Congdon, since they constituted pick-up and boarding charges, not fines.

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