Phineas, the yellow lab embroiled in a court battle with the City of Salem after biting a young child in 2012, has been moved to the offices of Dr. J.J. Tune, DVM, in Salem.
During an emergency closed session meeting of the board of aldermen, it was unanimously decided that Phineas would be boarded at a veterinarian clinic. Originally a shelter was the choice, but the dog’s notoriety made that difficult, according to city administrator Clayton Lucas.
“After he was stolen from the Dent County Animal Welfare Society shelter, I tried to find other shelters in the area, even in surrounding counties. No one would take him,” Lucas said.
Phineas spent time in two undisclosed locations. City officials are now saying that one of those locations was the walk-out basement of the Dent County Fire Protection District firehouse. The other location will remain unknown to protect the caregiver’s privacy, they said. According to Denna Tune with the department of agriculture, both locations were up to code standards. The department is bound by State Code of Regulation 2CSR 30-9.030, which outlines the standards for an animal care facility. She is no relation to Dr. J.J. Tune.
During a hearing Monday on the stay of execution filed by the dog’s owners’ lawyer, Joe Simon of St. Louis, city attorney Wm. Camm Seay stated that the city wanted to board Phineas at a veterinarian clinic in order to dispel any rumors of wrong-doing on the part of the city. According to Denna Tune, veterinarian clinics are licensed to board animals under state law.
At the time of the hearing, Dr. J.J. Tune’s office had not confirmed they could take Phineas. A reporter from The Salem News witnessed the transfer during an interview with Code Officer Jarred Brown.
“I called eight veterinary offices trying to find some place to keep him, seven of them wouldn’t even give me pricing, they just said no,” Brown said.
According to Brown one of the reasons that Dr. Tune’s office was chosen is that it is a private business, and although it would be fine for the dog’s owners, Patrick and Amber Sanders, to visit him, the public would not be allowed to come and go as they please like they could at the DCAWS shelter. Phineas is not to be released to anyone until the conclusion of court proceedings, Brown stated.
The cost of boarding the dog with Dr. Tune is $10 per day, as opposed to the $5 per day paid at the DCAWS shelter. That cost will be passed along to Phineas’ owners, Patrick and Amber Sanders. During Monday’s hearing it was calculated that at $10 per day for approximately six months the appeals process is foreseeably going to take, according to the attrorneys, the court and the attorneys for both parties agreed on a bond of $1,800 to maintain Phineas’ care. The Sanders have a $500 bond credit on file with the court system as of this time, according to Judge Scott Bernstein. Simon requested 15 days to pay the bond, which was granted.
During the hearing Simon argued that the city should be choosing the lowest cost option, the DCAWS shelter, and that choosing a more expensive boarding facility was damaging to his client.
“He was stolen from the shelter,” Seay said in response.
“So then I would ask that he have a 24-hour police guard at the new location,” Simon replied, citing that he knew of threats to the dog’s safety from people who believe he bit the child, and supporters who wish to free him.
Seay said that the city paying an officer $20 per hour to guard Phineas was “ludicrous,” and would not be an option.
Phineas is being kept in a covered run that is approximately 30 feet by 10 feet during the day, and according to a member of Dr. Tune’s staff, will be kept inside the clinic at night and during inclement weather.
A hearing has been set for the Sanders vs. Gary Brown, et al, for Thursday at 9 a.m.