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Expired Dog License Leads to Arrest

dog license

BELCHERTOWN, Mass. (WGGB) — A Turners Falls woman learned the hard way that you need to license your dog with your city or town after her failure to renew a license landed her in handcuffs.

Sylvia Buzzell is a single mother of two living in Turners Falls. Saturday night, just after putting her son to bed, Sylvia got the surprise of her life.

“I heard a loud knock at my door, I answered the door and found two police officers standing there,” Buzzell says. “They asked if I was Sylvia Buzzell I answered yes and then they informed me that they had a warrant for my arrest.”

The arrest stemmed from her failure to license her dog in Belchertown where she had previously lived.

When a dog goes unlicensed in Belchertown, the town’s clerks office will issue five different notices.

The case is then handed over to the town’s animal control officer, who will issue a notice of violation, which gives the resident 21 days to comply or the case will be handed to the court system.

“I received absolutely no notification,” Buzzell explains.  “If I had received notification I would have let Belchertown know that I was no longer a resident.”

Her lack of response caused the animal control officer to issue a formal complaint with the court. They in turn issued a summons to her for a hearing.

When she failed to appear, another summons was issued, then after no response, a warrant.

Buzzell said she never received any notifications from the court either.

After her arrest she was booked, but the charge was dismissed before her arraignment.

She’s now making it a priority to get her dog licensed in Turners Falls.

Belchertown animal control said they filed about 70 criminal complaints over unlicensed pets with the court, most do not result in warrants.


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