Former first lady fined $1,040 for runaway dog
SULLIVAN'S ISLAND -- Former South Carolina first lady Jenny Sanford says there's no doubt her dog is guilty of running loose.
But she plans to contest the $1,040 ticket the town's police wrote, calling it way too steep.
"I'm not knocking the police," she said Thursday. "But isn't this being a bit over the top?"
Sanford has an April 3 court date for a ticket she received after her 8-year-old black Labrador, Julius, broke free the morning of Feb. 22.
The dog got out when she went to a yoga class. The property's buried electronic fencing, meant to contain the animal's movements to inside her Atlantic Avenue homesite, was broken. It was the first time he'd ever bolted, she said.
"He is guilty," she said. "The dog wandered, and I know it is against the rules."
The bigger issue, she contends, is whether Sullivan's Island is being heavy-handed in its dog enforcement. "The punishment doesn't fit the crime," she said.
Town Administrator Andy Benke did not return phone messages. But island officials have taken a number of steps to control loose dogs in recent years.
Everyone who brings a dog onto the island is required to buy a collar tag for the animal. Cost: $35 for visitors, $25 for residents.
There are also hours set up for dogs to run free on the beach. But loose dogs on the streets and neighborhoods still is prohibited.
Sanford conceded she's had runaway dog issues before, including another pet Lab, Jeep, that got out twice before and finally was ticketed about $500.
For Julius, this was a first-time offense, she said.
Her question remains: Is the town "putting (its) fines where they should be?"