INDIANAPOLIS - A woman whose home was badly damaged in the Indianapolis neighborhood explosion claims police had to step in to stop Animal Care and Control from citing her after the family's cat got loose.
Adam Garrett with Indianapolis Animal Care and Control told RTV6 that traps were set for animals that were frightened and loose in the Richmond Hill subdivision following the devastating explosion that killed two people.
Eileen Browne, whose house was damaged in the blast, claimed her cat shortly after it was trapped, but Garrett said the same cat was found wandering in the neighborhood the very next day.
City animal control crews trapped the cat a second time, and Garrett said that the process of issuing a citation and a fine was initiated but never completed.
He said the explosion victim became "highly upset" and, once it was run up the chain of command at the pound, she was spared any citation or fine.
In an e-mail to Call 6 Investigators, Browne wrote, "An officer came to my door, asked for my driver’s license, wrote the $50 ticket, handed it to me along with my license. I had it in my hand.
"After a brief but firm conversation, the IMPD officer stationed at the end of my driveway became involved and called his squadron leader who was also in the area," she wrote.
She wrote that animal control workers refused to back down and insisted that she be issued the ticket, but the police officer continued to fight back on her behalf until the ticket was dismissed.
City laws do allow for fines to be levied when a person's cat or dog is found wandering in a neighborhood, Garrett said. He told Call 6 Investigators that the explosion victim was advised of those laws, but he said no citations or fines have actually been issued to any resident in the area affected by the Richmond Hill explosion.
Browne wrote in her e-mail that she was unaware that the cat was captured a second time.
"Due to the fact our front door was blown off its frame, it is hard to keep closed and we have to prop it shut with a chair," she wrote.
Another resident who contacted RTV6 wrote in an email, "But really, to charge a resident at Richmond Hills, at this time when they are suffering such trauma, is beyond the pale." When contacted again, the resident said she was glad to learn that no fine was actually levied against an explosion victim.
Garrett said the victim in this case was offered free boarding for her cat during her family's trauma, but she declined.
Browne disputes the city’s assertion, writing, "I wasn’t offered free boarding at that time. What I was offered was, ‘turn the cat over for 10 days and we’ll wave the $50.' After what has happened, we couldn’t turn a cat, that we consider a member of our family, over to animal control."
Garrett said three other cats remain at the city pound, after being trapped in the explosion neighborhood. He said one cat owner has taken the city up on its offer for free boarding. He said the other two cats may or may not belong to actual explosion victims, as no one has come forward to claim them.
Browne wrote in her e-mail, "I want to make it clear, animal control has provided a valuable service to our community and as far as I know, without incident. On behalf of our neighbors, thank you."
Other animals from the explosion zone are being housed at other humane agencies in the Indianapolis area, still awaiting owners to claim them.