Man files lawsuit against city, mayor

Resident alleges illegal trapping of cats in Nashua

NASHUA – The question of whether or not city officials have been illegally impounding cats as “strays” for “running at large” is headed to Hillsborough Superior Court-South.

Alleging that Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess and the city of Nashua have willingly ignored unlawful language in the city’s contract with the Humane Society for Greater Nashua, resident Gary Braun has filed a lawsuit naming Donchess and the city as co-defendants.

Braun’s allegations state the defendants have illegally allowed Nashua Police and other city officials to trap cats and impound them as strays, doing so while wasting taxpayer funds paying the Humane Society.

“The complaint filed with the Hillsborough County Superior Court is a challenge to the city’s use of taxpayer funds for the purpose of impounding cats as ‘strays’ or for ‘running at large.'” Braun said in a statement. “The lawsuit is brought pursuant to the 2018 amendment to Part 1, Section 8 of New Hampshire’s Constitution, allowing taxpayers to obtain a court ruling that a municipality is using public funds for illegal or unconstitutional purposes.”

The contract in questions is between the city of Nashua and the Humane Society. Section 1 read, ” “The HSFN will provide the following impoundment and quarantine services for animals by the Animal Control Office or a Nashua Police Officer. … Impoundment of stray felines for those with permanent ID only.”

Braun contends that that specific language, which he already had once worked to get removed in 2017 but was re-introduce in last year’s resigning of the agreement, does not abide by city ordinance 93-6 – impoundment of dogs, cats and ferrets found at large. The ordinance does not give the city the authority to impound cats, strays or otherwise.

While the re-introduction of the language had previously been brought up to both the Humane Society and Bolton, Braun said over the five months he had been pressing the issue, it has yet to be corrected. He alleges that his concerns may have been purposely ignored by the Bolton and the mayor.

“The failure or refusal of the mayor and Mr. Bolton to take notice of this situation and to rectify the illegal provisions in the current contract with the society is plainly irresponsible,” Braun stated.

Bolton said the city and the Humane Society are working on rectifying the issue. He also said that, to his knowledge, no one within the city is acting under the current language, all while expressing confusion as to why the topic has become such a pressing issue.

“There’s an intention to do that, I don’t believe its been done yet,” Bolton said. “No one is acting under that language. I’m not sure what the big issue is.”

Bolton also said he and the city have given Braun plenty of time on the matter, through multiple emails, which according to both Braun and Bolton have been contentious at times.

“I think we’ve given him a lot of time and attention,” Bolton said. “I would dispute that he’s been ignored.”

Officials at the Human Society said they have notified the city of the discrepancy in the current contract while voicing support for the city and their animal control efforts.

Doug Berry, CEO of the Humane Society for Greater Nashua, said that a city representative confirmed they are working on the issue, but he hasn’t heard anything further.

“I think the city of Nashua has done a great job on animal control,” Berry said. “I don’t think the lawsuit is something that should be pushed forward.”

While seeking a ruling where the city may not use taxpayer funds to pay any third party, including the Humane Society, to impound cats, Braun – who is representing himself in the matter – said he is hoping to hold the mayor and Bolton accountable.

“The city seemingly has no defense to the lawsuit,” Braun said in his statement.” In fact, for over a year now, Mr. Bolton has not even tried to argue that the practice of impounding cats as ‘strays’ by the city is legal.”