Jenny Sanford, former SC first lady, pays fine for loose Lab

Call it "the crime Lab": Former first lady of South Carolina Jenny Sanford has paid a $150 fine for the jailbreak of her black Labrador Retriever, Julius.

In Sullivans Island municipal court on Tuesday, Sanford pled guilty to the escaped-dog charge, and a town judge in the beach community levied a $150 fine – quite a markdown from the initial $1,040 ticket Sanford was handed in February, when 8-year-old Julius made his escape. At that time, Sanford protested that the fine didn't fit the crime, and noted that Julius didn't make a habit of making a break for it.

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Back on February 22, Julius was spotted roaming the grounds of the Sand Dunes Club, which is next to Sanford's home and is used for special events (among them, filming for the TV series "Army Wives"), and tooling around the Sullivans Island downtown before being returned to Sanford.

Sanford said that the electronic perimeter meant to keep her pets on her property had malfunctioned while she was at yoga class, and swore Julius hadn't busted out before. Judge Larry Duffy agreed that a $1,000-plus fine was high for an escaped dog – but apparently the initial ticket price was based on prior bad acts. Another Lab of Sanford's, Jeep, had hightailed it two years ago, but at that time, the ticket only cost Sanford $90. (Police Chief Danny Howard noted that the higher fine reflected "several other dogs" wandering away from the Sanford property.)

The town does offer off-leash hours on its beaches, but dogs aren't permitted to roam free on city streets or properties.

Prior to her howls of protest over the expensive ticket, Sanford was best known as the ex-wife of former SC governor Mark Sanford, who infamously claimed to be hiking the Appalachian Trail while actually visiting his mistress in Argentina. Jenny Sanford later filed for divorce; it seems Mark got to keep all the leashes in the settlement.

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