(WSVN) - A South Florida woman saved a dog’s life when she adopted her from a shelter — only to end up fighting unexpected fines amounting to nearly $700, as well as the prospect of facing a judge. She called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser to find out how to straighten it all out.
It’s said that if you love animals, you’re special. In that case, Lisette is very special.
Lisette Garcia: “Whenever I see one in the street, I actually stop and try to get it in the car.”
Lisette’s family has four dogs that they’ve rescued. The newest addition? A mixed breed that she got that someone had named Lazy.
Lisette Garcia: “She is definitely nowhere close to being lazy, so I changed her name to Stella.”
Stella looks great now, but at the time Lisette adopted her from the animal shelter, she was not in perfect health.
Lisette Garcia: “I had to get her medication for her kennel cough, and vitamins for her since she was underweight.”
When you adopt an animal from the shelter, you have a little over a month to have them spayed. And of course, you have to get a rabies shot.
Lisette Garcia: “The vet was adamant that she needed to gain some weight, get healthy before she went under.”
Four months after adopting Stella, it was time to head back to the vet.
Lisette Garcia: “The surgery took place in June of 2017, and the rabies, I believe, was two weeks before that. I took the certificate over to the shelter, which is where they give you the tag.”
At Miami-Dade Animal Services, Lisette says, she showed them proof of the shot and that Stella had been spayed, and they gave her the rabies tag.
Then she got a letter from animal services. It was not to congratulate her for adopting a dog.
Lisette Garcia: “Surprise, surprise, I have one citation for $515, because supposedly I didn’t spayed her, and another for $165 because I didn’t get her tag and her rabies shot.”
Nearly $700 in fines for not taking care of her animal — so she headed back to the shelter.
Lisette Garcia: “He looked at the paper, he said, ‘You know, you are right, but there’s nothing I can do. You can either pay or appeal.'”
That means Lisette now has to take time off from work to go to court to fight to get the nearly $700 in fines wiped out.
Lisette Garcia: “It’s a big mess. It’s a big mix-up. I’m very annoyed.”
Well, Howard, does this stand up legally?
Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “If Lisette spayed her dog and got it a rabies shot, and then got fined for not doing that, the violations should be thrown out. The key for the government agency is to not force Lisette to go to court, because that will cost her — and the court — time and money.”
We talked to Animal Services. Regarding the rabies tag, we were told, that was a mistake. They cleared it up and wiped out the $165 fine.
As for the citation for not spaying Stella, we were told, when Lisette adopted Stella, Animal Services set up an appointment to spay the dog. Animal Services said Lisette missed the appointment and did not respond to phone calls and email reminders, which led to the citation.
They told us they were not notified a vet recommended delaying the spaying.
We then asked Lisette to get a letter from her vet. After it was provided to Animal Services said, “It was determined that compliance was achieved, and as such, the citation will be closed.”
Meaning the fines are now wiped out.
Lisette Garcia: “The holidays will be worry free for me.”
Worry free because Lisette doesn’t have to go to court, and doesn’t have to pay those $700 in fines.
Lisette Garcia: “I am very happy that I reached out to Channel 7 and Help Me Howard, and the whole Channel 7 team has really been wonderful and diligent in trying to help me out with this.”
Nice of Animal Services to take care of those citations. Now, fortunately, a lot of people adopt animals from the shelter, but they do have rules, and if you don’t follow them, you can get hit in the wallet.
What rules? The links to the county animal shelters are under this Help Me Howard story. Read them so you avoid any headaches.
Got a problem dogging you? Tired of barking up the wrong tree trying to solve it? Take a shot with us. It’s painless, and we can shelter you from more troubles.
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