On Monday, February 13, 2017, the Plympton Board of Selectmen held an abbreviated meeting in order to hold a dog hearing.
Jane Schultz, a resident of Plympton walked her dog on what Schultz described as their typical route on Ring Road. Schultz says, “We walked to the transfer station and back (home).” Her chocolate lab was on a leash.
Then, a Staffordshire, not leashed, approached Schultz and her dog. Schultz said that at first, she had no concern about the dog coming over. The dog then attacked her chocolate lab, biting its neck.
At the selectmen’s meeting Jan. 30, Schultz told the board that the Staffordshire was only about 40 pounds compared to her chocolate lab’s 80 pounds, however she described the dog when attacking as “strong, vicious, and muscular.”
Schultz told the board at the hearing that it was very difficult to get the Staffordshire separated from her dog. She later found blood on her dog’s coller and called the Kingston Animal Hospital, where she spent about $200 in medical bills.
Caitlin Chapel, the owner of the Staffordshire, also attended the dog hearing and was extremely apologetic. She said that she usually has work at 5 a.m. and lets the dog out in the morning. That morning, she didn’t have to be in until 8.
Chapel says that her dog, Ruby, has social issues with other dogs, but gets along great with people. She also says Ruby sleeps with her 4 year old daughter every night.
Ruby was behind on shots and Chapel took full responsibility for that. Chapel plansto take her dog for her shots the day after the hearing.
After the incident, Animal Control Officer Frank Bush immediately enforced a 14 day restraining order on the Staffordshire which retrains the dog to the house unless on a leash.
After hearing both sides, selectmen had to decide if they would declare Ruby a nuisance dog or a dangerous dog.
Bush explained that, “If a dog is deemed to be a dangerous dog, the dog must be muzzled on a leash when off the property.” This leash cannot exceed 3 feet in length. The dog would also need to be in a designated pen when outside on the property.
Chapel strongly contended that a muzzle would not solve the problem and had worries about her dog’s social issues getting worse if confined to a pen. She asks if an electric fence would work.
Bush explained that the law doesn’t allow for an electric fence here. He says, “There’s been cases of dogs getting through.
The Board of Selectmen though didn’t want to take these measures just yet. Selectman Chair Colleen Thompson says, “I’m more inclined to declare the dog a nuisance dog rather than dangerous.”
With a dangerous designation, a muzzle is required by law. Animal Control Officer Bush said, “With a nuisance dog, that’s at the discretion of the board.”
The Board of Selectman unanimously decided to declare Chapel’s dog Ruby a nuisance dog rather than a dangerous dog. They ordered Ruby be permanently restrained and must be on a leash at all times outside.
Chapel thanked the board for their decision. She says she plans to get Ruby training for its social issues and offered to pay Schultz’s dog’s medical bills. Schultz turned down the offer, though, and said she’d rather the money go to Ruby’s training.