Marion Selectboard votes dangerous dog must be restrained

Mar 15, 2022

MARION – Following an altercation between dogs, the Marion Select Board ruled the aggressor was dangerous and drafted conditions to prevent future incidents.

The hearing concerned an altercation between two dogs that happened on Dec. 12, 2021. Deb Cohen, the owner of the dog that was bitten, submitted a complaint that was accompanied by an incident report by Officer Susan Connor of Marion. Thomas Hibbert explained that his dog, Finley, accidentally escaped from his home before she attacked Cohen’s dog, Archie.

“I was working on my car and the garage door was open,” he said. “She ran across the street because she saw Archie, and Archie is a trigger to her.” Finley bit Archie twice before she was restrained by Cohen. Hibbert clarified that while Finley was aggressive towards Archie, she “didn’t attack Mrs. Cohen.”

“I am concerned for my dog’s safety and my safety, which is why I am pursuing this tonight, because I don’t feel safe in my neighborhood any more,” said Cohen.

Finley is an 80-pound Rottweiler, and Archie is a smaller dog of 25 pounds. 

“I apologized profusely and Archie went to the vet,” said Hibbert, “I said, send me the bill.” 

Hibbert said that the incident was isolated, and he can think of no other time where Finley attempted to attack another dog or person. He also shared a letter from Finley’s veterinarian. “Finley is entering her senior years which tends to slow her down,” the veterinarian wrote. “If she wore a leash and the owners were able to prevent her from escaping then an incident would be unlikely.”

In Cohen’s letter to the select board, she stated that her goal was not to have Finley euthanized, but to “take steps to ensure that an altercation doesn’t happen again.”

“I don’t think there’s any disagreement that the dog can be a threat, there are certain things that trigger the dog,” said Selectman John Waterman. “What’s important here is we come up with some proposal that makes sure Finley is restrained so Mrs. Cohen can be comfortable.”

“There is no question that this dog fits the definition of a dangerous dog,” said Selectman Norman Hills.

The board voted unanimously that the dog be classified as dangerous, and moved to suggest that the dog be restrained by a leash whenever necessary and that Hibbert keep the dog securely confined to the indoors. This could include the installation of a “baby gate” at the back door and a fence around the backyard of the property.

Marion Town Counsel Jonathan Witten will write a draft of a proposal consistent with the board’s vote and, with Officer Susan Conner’s approval, present it at the next select board meeting.

If Hibbert were to violate the sanctions, he would be subject to a daily $300 violation fine.