Woman Says Animal Control Held Her Dog Hostage

Phoenix, Arizona resident Reena Bradford was confounded and distressed when her Great Dane was stolen.  Her dog, Dulce, was soon dropped off at Animal Control, but they demanded Bradford pay a hefty bill before they would release her.

Dulce was snatched from Bradford’s car outside of a Petsmart over the weekend.  A local news channel ran the story, and the dog was quickly dumped at Maricopa County Animal Care and Control on Monday.  Bradford went to pick up Dulce, but before she was allowed to take her home, Animal Control claimed she owe them $231.

“It was for intake fees, release fees, vaccinations fees, rabies shots, tags, license renewals, everything she could think of,” she said.

Bradford was outraged that they wanted so much money for a dog that was already hers, when she could adopt a stray dog from them for only $51.

“These are just fees assessed for us through county law,” explained Audie Greybear of Animal Control.

Bradford reluctantly paid, but only because she wanted Dulce home again.  She left without getting the shots or the microchip.  Dulce’s groomer corroborated Bradford’s insistence that the rabies shots were up-to-date.

On Monday, Animal Control and two police officers showed up in a dog-catching van, claiming Bradford had an unlicensed, unvaccinated dog.  Her veterinarian spoke to police on the phone and further confirmed the current rabies shots.  The police apologized for the inconvenience and departed.

“If you have a current rabies vaccination current license and pet microchip it’s a free ride home,” said Greybear.

Animal Control says they might issue a partial refund, for the rabies shots, provided Bradford can show proper documentation.  However, they will not refund the microchip fee, despite the fact that Dulce did not get one.  Apparently the option of having your dog microchipped is no longer optional, and you have to pay for a service you do not even use.

“It was unbelievable the way I was treated after my dog was stolen,” Bradford said.




  1. Cynfri70 says on  12/12/2012 at 8:09 pm

    This happened to me also. My dog was stolen from my yard in Austin and was found at the local animal shelter. I had to pay a simular fee for lodging. His vaccinations were up to date, he did get an implant at that time. This was 14 years ago.. and he’s till with us, alive and kicking!!

  2. Anonymous says on  12/12/2012 at 8:15 pm

    Typical government agency, abuse the hell out of victim. Too bad they didn’t redirect their efforts from attacking the owner and actually try to catch the POSs that stole the dog.

    Who they hell are they to force a microchip onto someone??

    How in the hell can they charge for it even if she didn’t get it??

    Give these clowns a tin badge and they go power tripping.

  3. DaneOwnerDogLover says on  12/12/2012 at 9:26 pm

    That’s just wrong. Animal control should have been helpful when getting the dog back to it’s owner. Not only did they charge her fees for services not given but THEN they had the audacity to show up afterwards with police officers and a dog catching van to confiscate the dog!?! Sounds like she needs file a nuisance complaint and at the very least get all her money back.

  4. Kasey says on  12/13/2012 at 6:27 am

    I agree with the owner. But I do have to ask, her car was parked outside a petsmart was she in petsmart when the dog was taken?? Cuz at petsmart they allow you to take your dog inside the store. As far as animal control dealing with more bullsh*t than anyone else, give me a break dude! You don’t know what others are dealing with or what they will have to deal with in the future. I’m just glad that she got her dog back, that’s what’s important!

    • Anonymous says on  12/13/2012 at 8:32 am

      Wow… I guess you mindlessly pay for services that are never rendered all the time, eh? And when you do pay for the services and are threatened by the police with arrest, you just mindlessly go along to the station in handcuffs? What a piece of work, you are…

    • threenorns says on  12/15/2012 at 11:29 am

      true, they allow you to bring your dog into petsmart (and, where i live, pretty much anywhere that doesn’t serve food or medication) but that doesn’t mean you should bring your dog in. i often bring dandy into the bank, the post office, the beer store, canadian tire, etc, but if i see one of a few particular dogs, i will leave him outside because i know those dogs are undisciplined and/or dog-aggressive and dandy’s not the kind to back down. if a dog acts out, he views it as a threat to me and responds accordingly (WAY worse if my 5yr old is with us – he does NOT tolerate any misbehaviour around her!) – i can’t blame him for that, since it’s why i got him in the first place and it’s not his fault that i moved from remote location in the bush to the middle of town.

  5. Stephanie says on  12/13/2012 at 9:04 am

    Here in Austin now there is an “Abandoned dog” law that makes it illegal to leave your dog in the car for any reason.

  6. James C. Orvis says on  12/13/2012 at 9:47 am

    What do you expect from the state that killed Target the hero dog?

  7. Julie says on  12/13/2012 at 11:10 am

    Isn’t animal control paid for my the state ? They shouldn’t ask for any money she is already paying it in her taxes. If it was a shelter that relied on donations etc then ya charge a fee.

    • Anonymous says on  12/13/2012 at 11:49 am

      Many most animal control shelters get a lot of their funding from the license fees. If she didn’t have the dog licensed then she owned that and the penalty. If the dog wasn’t neutered that fee and the penalty could be a big part of the cost. Most places require a dog license so if she didn’t have one she owed that if the dog was stolen or not.
      Also the cost of boarding the dog is reasonable since the dog had to be fed and cared for.
      Yes, it stinks that anyone would steal a dog, but unfortunately many victims of crimes have to pay to put things right. If you wallet is stolen you have to buy a new one and pay the fees to get your documents taken care of. Insurance doesn’t cover all the cost of damage due to a break in. It’s just part of life.

      • Stuart says on  12/14/2012 at 9:06 pm

        If you pay to register or licence your dog with your local authorities, you have effectively already paid an insurance premium against just this sort of eventuality. Billing the victim for return of stolen goods is simply immoral, regardless of how you write the regulations. If your wallet is stolen, and NOT RECOVERED, you have to buy a new one – if it is recovered it’s given back to you. You might want to read this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theft_by_finding.

        “It was for intake fees, release fees, vaccinations fees, rabies shots, tags, license renewals, everything she could think of,” – no mention of boarding there, just routine administration she has already paid into via licensing, and a list of services THAT WERE NOT RENDERED!

        Again, the dog was STOLEN and the first thing a thief would do is remove obvious identification like collar with tags. All she should have needed to do is produce Dulce’s licence and vaccination paperwork, listen to a recommendation about getting her chipped, then walk out the door with her.

      • threenorns says on  12/15/2012 at 11:32 am

        well, i don’t know how your municipality runs things, but where i live, if your licensed dog is picked up (for any reason – stolen, roaming, whatever), it’s a free ride home. that’s the whole point of licensing your dog otherwise why bother?

  8. Dave says on  12/13/2012 at 11:30 am

    At our animal shelter rarely is anyone held up for money when their dog is stolen. But if strayed and picked there is small fee.

  9. Sandy says on  12/13/2012 at 11:35 am

    While I disagree with the fees that they charged, I would happily pay that amount to get my dog back. Did they have to house the dog for any period of time? If so, then they probably could have charged a nominal fee and asked for a donation to the shelter.

  10. WisePati says on  12/13/2012 at 11:44 am

    I was also wondering why the dog was in the car instead of with the owner? Did they break into the car or what? And hoping it wasn’t a hot day because I know it can get mighty hot in AZ. If the dog was suffering from the heat then maybe whoever took the dog saved its life?
    The fees do seem a bit high, but if the dog had been licensed then the rabies vaccination record would have been up to date and in the system. They don’t say how much of the fee was a penalty for getting the dog licensed late and for the dog license itself. If she didn’t have a license for the dog she owed those fee regardless. Many states charge a lot more for the license if the dog is not neutered, not sure this dog’s status on that regard.
    When the dog came in did AC know the dog was ‘stolen’? Not sure how they would. It is standard practice to administer vaccinations at many AC’s though they are not effective for a number of days after that, they are doing their best to prevent disease.
    Shelters do charge for boarding the dog and that is reasonable as far as I am concerned.
    If I recall correctly, this ‘shelter’ is high kill and many many dogs come in and out and many are killed. Unfortunately the fees are what pay for this. It is the irresponsible owners and breeders who don’t take care of their dogs that force the rest of us to pay for their actions.
    I wonder why she didn’t get the MicroChip when she paid for it? There have been great stories of dogs returned all due to that little chip.

  11. threenorns says on  12/15/2012 at 11:34 am

    bottom line is, animal control is treating her like she has a pit bull. heh – given the state of knowledge of too many animal shelter staff, they probably DO think it’s a pit bull!

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  13. Cheryl says on  07/27/2015 at 8:17 am

    What I don’t understand is, if she was charged for the microchip, why didn’t she go ahead and get one? All my animals are “chipped”. Yes, it is an expense, but if the dog is ever “lost” again, the chip would insure that the dog was returned to the correct owner. Just makes sense to me.

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