Officials: Nashua police not prioritizing cats; BOA meeting is tonight

NASHUA – As city officials work to revamp their contract with the Humane Society for Greater Nashua, new legislation will be brought to the Board of Aldermen during the 7:30 p.m. meeting tonight at City Hall regarding animals running at large.

Concerns regarding the language in the city’s current legislation and the language within the contract regarding the trapping of felines as strays was brought forward by local cat advocate Gary Braun in 2017 when, he contends, his pet cat was unlawfully trapped by the city in a trap provided by the animal shelter.

While he was initially able to get the wording of the contract revised, when it came up for renewal last July, the original language was reintroduced during what has been described as an oversight.

With the contract once again up for renewal, city officials have decided instead of changing the contract regarding at large felines, they will instead clarify language within the legislation regarding animals running at large.

The new legislation being proposed would explicitly allow for the animal control officer and other members of law enforcement to bring at large felines to the humane society. Braun has new concerns regarding whether the Nashua Police Department should be allocating time and money chasing down cats.

“Personally, I’d rather have the police focus on dealing with violent crimes and the opioid crisis as compared impounding cats because they’re off their owners’ properties,” Braun said via a text message.

While addressing concerns via the phone on Friday, Nashua Police Chief Michael Carignan said the department will enforce legislation to the best of its ability as officials do with any issue. However, impounding cats is not one of the department’s top concerns.

“Our job is to enforce legislation, if legislation is passed, we would enforce it to the best of our ability. Impounding cats is not a priority right now in my department,” Carignan said.

“We don’t generally proactively go out and get cats. If there was an incident where they bit somebody or bit something else, we would take it to the shelter,” Carignan continued. “If it was sick or injured, we would take it to the shelter. If it was left abandoned, we would do the same.”

“There is always exceptions and if somebody needs something, we would help with getting the animal to the shelter,” Carignan added.

While Braun has also engaged the city and Mayor Jim Donchess in a lawsuit, alleging officials have willingly ignored unlawful language in the city’s contract, city officials have said the contract is not unconstitutional.

While there is no current language specifying the legality of impounding cats, the title of ordinance 93.6; “Impoundment of dogs, cats, ferrets and chickens found at large” implies the city can lawfully impound the animals mentioned.

Nashua Corporation Counsel Steve Bolton said there have been no decisions made after last week’s hearing in the city’s legal battle with Braun. He said the city is not sure what Braun wants.

“We don’t even know specifically what he wants. I don’t know what would appease him,” Bolton said. “We’ve tried to work with him. He is a difficult person to deal with these days.”

Mathew Plamondon may be reached at 594-1244, or at mplamondon@nashuatelegraph.com, @telegraph_MatP.