Selectmen delay decision on dog accused of livestock attack

Jul 11, 2018

Selectmen have decided to wait until the board can determine the whereabouts of the owner of a dog accused of attacking a neighbor’s farm animals before deciding on the canine’s fate in town.

Joan Wing, of 651 Point Road, sent a letter to the Board of Selectmen in April asking them to take some action against the owner of a Husky breed dog that the viciously attacked her goats and horse while those livestock were secured in an enclosure in her backyard. Wing said the dog, whose name is Gideon, is owned by neighbor Andrew Garvey, of 49 Joanne Drive.

Wing said one of her daughters went out to the animals’ enclosure on Sept. 20, 2017 and came upon a terrible scene

“My daughter, Debbie, discovered the Husky inside my animals’ enclosure attacking my goats and horse,” Wing wrote.  “As a result of the attack one of the goats suffered an injury to his hip.  And the horse had some of her mane bitten off.”  Wing said she was home at the time but did not hear the attack.

“Based on how much ground was torn up, the attack apparently had gone on for some time. Fortunately, the horse tried her best to protect the goats from harm” but was herself injured in the attack. Wing notified police and the town dog officer of the attack.

Wing said she took measures to close any holes in the fence around the animals’ enclosure. But over the winter, the dog was again in her yard but unable to gain access to the livestock’s enclosure. She said on April 19, her daughter Patti was alerted that the Husky was sitting on Wing’s back steps barking continuously. The police were again notified, she said.

“The fear of having my goats killed by this neighbor’s dog has gone on too long,” Wing wrote. “As much as I love animals, at this time I request that something be done to prohibit the dog from coming into my yard and harming my animals.”

Wing attended the meeting with her daughter, Debbie. However, Garvey was not in attendance. Town Administrator Paul Dawson said Garvey was notified of the public hearing by regular and certified mail. He did not hear back from Garvey.

In an effort to resolve the matter, Dawson had Marion Police go the Garvey residence, but it appeared Garvey no longer lived there. He said authorities can’t ascertain as to Garvey’s location at this time. Selectman Chairman Norm Hills said he was also told that the dog allegedly killed a Delano Road resident’s rabbits.

“I would recommend that the dog be retrained,” Marion Animal Control Officer Suzanne Connor, who attended the July 10, public hearing on the matter. “These people (the Garvey’s) have been on my radar since about 2012. They are never compliant with even the simplest task, such as licensing their dog.”

Connor confirmed that the dog killed the rabbits on Delano Road. She said she cited Garvey for non-licensing after picking the dog up and taking it to an animal shelter. Connor has tried to assist the Garvey’s with the dog. She said she provided them with a dog house, and information on training.

“Its not a mean dog, but its not well supervised,” the dog officer said.

Dawson then laid out the board’s options.

“The first thing the board has to do is determine whether the dog is a dangerous dog or a nuisance dog,” Dawson said.” After determining that …if the board were to determine this is a dangerous dog, as opposed to a nuisance dog, there are a number of things the board could do.

Selectmen briefly discussed whether the dog should be considered dangerous or a nuisance. Wing’s daughter offered her opinion.

“I’ve been in contact with the dog before, so I would say he’s not a threat to people,” Debbie Thompson said.

“But he’s certainly a threat to (other) animals,” Hills said.

Ultimately, Selectmen decided to wait until they could determine whether Garvey had moved somewhere in town before issuing a determination. The matter will likely be taken up at a future selectmen’s meeting, they said.