Marion schedules dangerous dog hearing

Apr 2, 2019

MARION — Selectmen approved a dangerous dog hearing for May 7 at the recommendation of neighbors and the police, after a border collie attacked a woman and her two terriers on March 3, allegedly leaving her with a bite and a puncture wound. 

At an April 2 meeting, Selectmen discussed what to do about the dog, which belongs to Michael Devoll, the principal at Old Rochester Regional High School, and his wife Kate Devoll. The owners are also accused of violating quarantine conditions placed on the dog for ten days after the attack, which required the dog be inside or on a leash under constant supervision. 

Chief of Police John B. Garcia and Animal Control Officer Susan Connor recommended that the Selectmen schedule a hearing because owners violated quarantine conditions twice. 

A letter signed by Diane Kelley and David Risch provided a detailed eyewitness account of what happened. The witness in the letter states that they were alerted by the victim screaming, the attack went on for 10 minutes and only stopped when Michael Devoll came out of the house and grabbed the dog by the collar. The writer also later reported a quarantine breach. 

“We understand the natural instinct of [...] Border Collies to defend their property,” letter writers said, but “one dog’s street presence has escalated from a nuisance to a threat. The light-faced dog seems very sweet, in direct contrast with his brother who cannot distinguish between predator and neighbor. I feel endangered every time I walk by their property, forcing me to abandon walks altogether.” 

The letter writer has seen “no actions that are effective in correcting the problem,” noting that the Devolls kept their dogs locked inside for long periods, but that only served to make them more hyper and aggressive. 

The writer also states that another neighbor’s husky was attacked by the more aggressive border collie, and that the owner would be willing to testify. 

Another neighbor, Jane Hathaway, also wrote that she feels the Devolls should not have pets. While Hathaway concedes that the dogs, “have never been aggressive toward me,” she complained of excessive barking in the early morning. Michael Devoll attended the meeting but did not comment.