STOWE, Vt. -- Dog owners who fail to pay fines now face arrest.
That's what happened to Heather Carey of Stowe last month. The 28-year-old ignored the three letters she received seeking payment of her $50 fine for her dog running at large.
On the day before Thanksgiving, two police officers showed up at her door, frisked her, placed her in handcuffs, transported her to the police station in the back of a police cruiser, fingerprinted her, and snapped her mug shot. After a call to a Vermont district court judge, bail was set at $70, which she paid and was released.
"It was pretty humiliating," said Carey, who admitted ignoring her mail and not paying her fine. "I did not think it would come down to being arrested."
Three other people were notified by mail that they were due in court on Nov. 17 because they failed to pay their dog fines. When they did not show up, Lamoille County District Judge Edward Cashman issued arrest warrants for all three, and Stowe police are looking for them.
"We are just doing our job," said Police Chief Ken Kaplan. "An arrest warrant was issued by a district court judge. If we know where they are and don't arrest them, we can face criminal charges."
Kaplan said the same will hold true for parking violators after the town institutes an expected two-hour parking limit on village streets. "You think it is bad for this," Kaplan said. "Wait until we start arresting people for $10 parking fines."
Dog and parking violators will not receive special treatment, Kaplan said.
"These people are handcuffed, fingerprinted, and photographed," Kaplan said. "The same as if you get arrested for any other offense."
Offenders can, however, have their arrest warrant terminated by paying the fine at the Lamoille County Court House in Hyde Park before police find them.
The Lamoille County State's Attorney's office is not involved with the arrest warrants, which are issued by the court at the request of selectmen.
"I think it is interesting that they are using arrest warrants for those things," said state's attorney Joel Page. "But it might get people's attention to pay their fines."