Marion to hold dangerous dog hearing after attack complaint, discussion

Feb 26, 2024

MARION – Miles Grant had been taking his goldendoodle Harry to the dog group at Silvershell Beach in Marion for years on the morning of Dec. 21, 2023. He and the 8-year old dog were regulars in the group from 2017 to 2019 when Grant lived in Marion.

On that Thursday around 8:30 a.m., while walking from the parking lot towards the concession stand area where the group gathers, a St. Bernard owned by Marion resident Verena Hultsch approached Grant and his dog.

Then the St. Bernard lunged, according to Grant.

What allegedly happened immediately after served as the basis for a complaint Grant, a Fairhaven resident, submitted to the town of Marion that has prompted the Marion Select Board to move to hold a public hearing regarding Hultsch’s St. Bernard.

“It attacked Harry as I yelled at it, then I kicked it several times to try to get it off,” Grant’s written complaint said. “Harry was able to get free and ran across the park to try to hide behind the octagonal sandpit area, but the St. Bernard chased him and attacked him again. It did not stop until I had kicked it again several times.”

At a Feb. 26 special meeting, the Select Board discussed Grant’s complaint. The 55-pound goldendooddle was wounded in the back, according to the complaint.

“The dog is immense, and it’s a miracle that that was not worse,” Marion Animal Control Officer Susan Connor said. “It’s a wonder that Mr. Grant wasn’t injured.”

Connor said she was told by Hultsch that the dog is “not friendly” and “not to approach it.” Hultsch was not able to attend the Feb. 26 meeting.

The St. Bernard also growled, according to Connor. During a previous May 2023 encounter at Washburn Park, Connor said she saw the dog in a defensive posture.

“I was out of the truck and the dog was aggressively moving toward me,” Connor said. “And I advised the owner that the dog was not suitable to be off-leash.”

Select Board Member Toby Burr said he spoke to two people whose dogs have occasionally played with the St. Bernard.

“Their comment was ‘There’s nothing wrong with that dog,’ Burr said.

Connor said her recommendation was that the dog be secured on a leash no longer than 3 feet and wear a muzzle when it leaves the owner's property. She also suggested that Hultsch fence her yard, so the dog “doesn’t have access to the public” should it escape.

“The responsibility lies with the owner,” Connor said. “There are very few dogs that are just born with some sort of an issue that causes them to be aggressive.”