Halifax BOS say control dog or else: Family warned that dog could face euthanization
HALIFAX–Jan. 26 Selectmen held three dog hearings, considered updates to the Highway Department and other radio systems, and discussed looking further into a proposal by Duxbury to increase their regional dispatching center, which right now includes Duxbury and Plympton.
Intense Dog Hearing
Although selectmen may have been trying to send a strong message to the dog-owners and residents with pets in Town in general, the terms “euthanize”, “put-down” and “save your dog” were put forth by the Board with a certain indifference.
One hearing had been continued from Jan. 12 in order for more witnesses to be found. No new witnesses came forward, although the dog-owner appeared with his wife, who had not been present at the beginning of the hearing Jan. 12.
The incident occurred at 304 Wood Street on Nov. 18, 2015. A bicyclist from Bridgewater, the victim, was riding his bike at approximately 5:05 p.m. when a dog began to chase the bicycle and bit him.
Originally, the dog could not be located, due to the distance of the incident from the home where the owners of the dog lived, but Halifax Animal Control Officer Noreen Callahan eventually located the dog at 270 Wood Street. She stated that according to an anonymous neighbor, a dog living at 270 Wood Street is often running loose.
The neighbor continued to wish to remain anonymous and the victim did not come to the hearing on Tuesday.
The dog-owner and his wife insisted that they did not believe that the dog that made the bite was theirs, even though neither of them were home when it happened and the dog was under the control of their children.
They also stated that because the incident happened such a far distance from their home, that it couldn’t have been their dog in this case, even though they acknowledged the dog sometimes has gotten loose in the past, as recently as this summer.
A nearly identical incident occurred with the same dog in 2009, according to Selectmen.
ACO Callahan has repeatedly insisted that the dog has been positively identified, and Selectmen have stated that they have no reason to doubt her.
Despite the grey-area recognized by Selectmen Troy Garron and Tom Millias due to the lack of witnesses present, Garron, a retired law-enforcement officer said he could certainly build a “circumstantial” case that he would win in court.
Selectmen Chairman Roy asked, “How are we going to resolve this?” The Board was unanimous in its deliberations that this could not occur again, in order to protect the safety of the people of Halifax and protect the liability of the Town.
The couple was asked if they could fence in their whole yard, to which they answered that it would be a financial hardship, costing more than $10,000 for a dog that will likely only live a few more years. Roy attempted to work with them to come up with a more cost-effective solution, but then pointed out that failing all else, putting the dog down might be the only answer. “Are you willing to spend $10,000 to save your dog?” asked Roy. “How much are you willing to spend?”
“If this happens again, we’re going to have to find the dog a new home. Can we ban dogs anymore?” asked Garron. Town Administrator Charlie Seelig responded “No.” “Well, there are other ways of finding a dog a ‘new home,’” responded Garron.
And on it went. The bottom line from the Board to the family was: this can never happen again so you have to come up with a plan to keep the dog from escaping. The couple could be seen comforting their visibly upset school-age daughters who accompanied them to the hearing.
In order for the family to keep their dog, they agreed to either gate or fence in an area so that the dog can’t escape before being placed on a chain run or a leash. They must submit their plan to the BOS and the ACO for approval. “The last thing I would want is to see is a dog euthanized due to the negligence of its owners,” said Garron.
Selectman Millias, who is generally soft-spoken, provided the last words of the hearing, “If the victim and the neighbor were sitting here now to testify against you, I would be voting to euthanize your dog right now.”
According to Selectmen Chairman Roy, the Highway Department is using antiquated radio equipment that is more than thirty years old. The Town is no longer even licensed to use the frequency for those radios.
Police Chief Ted Broderick mentioned that the radios are so antiquated that the Highway Department just uses phones right now to communicate.
This has brought attention to the fact that many other Town departments, although not Police and Fire, are in the same or similar situations. During the most recent snowstorm, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) had to loan Halifax radios, but when they are sent back, they are back to using nothing but phones.
Town officials are scrambling to correct the problem in the next few weeks by getting a better handle on the cost of new equipment, in the realm of $40,000, according to Roy, and relicensed to broadcast on the proper frequencies by the FCC. “We’re trying to balance between getting the latest new technology versus something cheap and quick,” said the Police Chief.
Duxbury is again courting Halifax to join in its regional dispatch facility. The Town of Plympton pays Duxbury to handle its dispatching.
Although Halifax has participated in studies of switching to regional dispatching in the past, none have come to fruition.
Chairman Roy mentioned that one disadvantage would be that the civilian dispatchers are stationed at the Police Station, and perform certain administrative duties, such as dealing with the public.
Should Halifax join Plympton in remote dispatching from Duxbury, the station would “go dark” at some point during the evening, which concerned the entire Board. Selectman Garron said, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” in response to the proposal from Duxbury Fire Chief Kevin Nord. “But, I would be willing to listen to a proposal.”
Selectman Millias also was not inclined to go in that direction right now, but as a Plympton employee stated that it has worked well for them. Chairman Roy will explore the matter with Duxbury Fire Chief Nord.Halifax Selectmen will next meet Tuesday, Feb. 9.