HALIFAX – Tuesday night, at the continued dog bite hearing, selectmen voted to euthanize a young male German shepherd whose apparently unprovoked attack caused great harm to a young woman who was visiting at Tarawood Kennels with kennel owner Jennifer “Bobbie” Choate.
The victim was present at the hearing, with her arm in a cast and a bandaged foot, as were the dog’s former owners, testifying on behalf of the dog.
Choate told selectmen that she has a person willing to take the dog, a man who works with problem dogs. This person is out of state, she said.
The people who raised the dog had no incidents, Choate said. She doesn’t know what triggered the attack.
The couple who raised the dog came to the hearing with their infant son, and told the board that the dog had been raised in their family, with an infant, a toddler, and two other children, and had no problems with the dog being aggressive.
The Halifax Animal Control Officer Noreen Callahan told selectmen that she had seen the dog and would characterize him as an Alpha dog, high energy, appearing healthy. When asked by Selectman Kim Roy if she thought the dog could be placed, Callahan answered, “I don’t see him being placed with a family.”
Callahan furthered, “If I was at the site of the attack, I could say more,” but not seeing the attack, the reason for the attack is difficult to discern.
Roy said her biggest concern is for the liability of the town, should the dog attack again. When Selectman Tom Millias said that any agreement to transfer ownership of the dog would need to be iron-clad in that the Town of Halifax could in no way be held liable.
Roy told her board she didn’t want to spend even a penny of the townspeople’s money to have an attorney draft such an agreement. “This was a vicious attack.”
Millias asked if the person out of state had actually agreed to take him. Choate said he did, but that she, too, was concerned about the liability if the dog were to bite again.
Roy asked the victim if she had ever had a dog bite her before, and she answered that she had, but that this incident was unprovoked. The young woman suffered a broken arm and as many as 29 puncture wounds, and an injured foot.
Troy Garron, selectmen chairman, told the assembly, “You’re playing Russian Roulette … I’ve been around dogs all my life.” Even though he said he didn’t want to see the dog euthanized, he wasn’t comfortable passing the problem to someone else.
Milias said it is unfortunate to ship the dog out of state to then potentially hurt someone else.
Roy moved that the dog be euthanized, but added, “We all feel awful!”
Town administrator Charlie Seelig noted that there is a 10-day appeal period from March 28, the date of the hearing, which would end April 7.
Choate said she would not appeal.
The dog is still under 45-day quarantine, which is required by law.
In other business, selectmen:
• appointed Joanne Andrews as a Republican member of the Board of Registrars.
• appointed Richard Gilcoine as fence viewer, effective June 30.
• congratulated Town Clerk Barbara Gaynor for her certification as a Commonwealth Town Clerk.
• signed a one-day permit for MudFest Sunday, June 18, Father’s Day performance.