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Published: Wednesday, 8/8/2007

Szollosi seeks legislation to ban pets in city cars after mayor left dog in auto

In the public doghouse for leaving his pooch locked inside a parked car last week, Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner s actions have caused a city councilman to propose legislation outlawing pets from city vehicles.

Councilman Frank Szollosi asked Clerk of Council Jerry Dendinger during yesterday s council meeting to find where it would be appropriate in the city code to add a law prohibiting pets from vehicles owned or leased by the city.

Mr. Szollosi was responding to reports that Mr. Finkbeiner locked his yellow Lab, Scout, inside his city-leased GMC Envoy last Friday for about 45 minutes while going to receive massage therapy for an Achilles tendon injury.

The mayor parked outside of the Westgate Building in West Toledo in a handicapped parking spot and was given a $100 ticket.

He said he parked in that spot because it was in the shade and would be better for the dog, and also said he left his back windows open.

Mr. Szollosi said Mr. Finkbeiner s actions the mayor occasionally leaves Scout unattended in the car, according to mayoral spokesman Brian Schwartz and his unrepentant attitude were unacceptable.

If he would ve just apologized and agreed to heed the advice of veterinarians and the humane society , Mr. Szollosi said. His actions have forced us to take matters into our own hands.

Mr. Szollosi told The Blade he would be willing to compromise by including the word unattended into his new piece of legislation.

He said he believes the mayor when he says he cares for his dog, but also said he was disappointed in Mr. Finkbeiner s behavior.

Mr. Szollosi later told The Blade that the mayor was abusing a privilege by transporting Scout in the vehicle provided to him by the city.

Mr. Dendinger said the mayor is viewed differently than other city employees because he is not taxed for taking a city vehicle home overnight.

Mr. Dendinger said Mr. Finkbeiner is assigned a vehicle for use 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is not violating any laws by driving the car around Toledo for personal use.

Now if he drove it to Michigan for vacation, that might be stretching it a little, Mr. Dendinger said.

Mr. Schwartz, the mayor s spokesman, was not inside council chambers when Mr. Szollosi admonished Mr. Finkbeiner, but was already aware of the councilman s remarks when contacted by The Blade.

I d criticize something [Mr. Szollosi] did if I could think of anything he s ever done, Mr. Schwartz said.

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