Selectmen Take Action Against Pit Bull After Two Biting Incidents
Selectmen decided to test the dog for aggression before deciding if it should be banished or euthanized.
Selectmen last night voted to get Mocha, a pit bull living on Clover Hill Drive, tested for aggression after officials say he bit two different people within six weeks.
Animal Control officer Erik Merrill said the first incident happened on May 2 when a neighbor, Rose Marchand, entered the home after Mocha's owner, Yvonne Lee, invited Marchand over to get instructions for taking care of Mocha while Lee was on vacation.
Upon entering the home and opening the door a crack, Mocha pushed through the door and bit Marchand on the hand. She needed to receive seven stitches. Marchand reported to Merrill that Lee told her Mocha had bitten before when they lived in another town.
The second and more serious incident, Merrill said, happened June 12 after Cheryl Green and her husband were doing some tree removal at Lee's house. Green told police she had entered into a fenced in area to remove some brush, but Lee thought Green had left the property and let the dog out into the fenced in area.
Green was bitten on her left forearm with numerous puncture wounds, some as deep as muscle, and potential broken bones, Merrill said. The wound was bloody, Merrill said, and very painful. Green was transported to Lowell General Hospital by ambulance after the incident, he said.
Lee, who has had the dog for 7 years, since he was a puppy, said he is very territorial and shows aggression while in his home or in the car. Lee said she has lived in town for a year and a half. Lee said she has brought Mocha to a number of trainers to try to fix the problem.
Merrill said he was concerned because the attacks were unprovoked.
"After seven years of training and the dog still doesn’t get it...Two bites in six weeks, that’s unacceptable. There's no need for a bad dog in town," he said.
Selectmen debated on whether to banish the dog immediately.
"You have a dog you admit is very protective of its territory, but you’ve never had a sign posted about it, knowing you have this dog ... There are children in the area who might innocently walk into your property and be attacked by a dog they didn’t know was back there," said Board of Selectmen Chairman Jon Kurland. "I'm concerned when you say it's aggrestive in the car and it's barking and I'm wondering what would happen ... if he bolted through the door and attacked a passerby in the parking lot."
Lee said the dog often attacks out of fear for its safety. Selectman Matt Hanson said he felt as though the dog should immediately be banished.
"I don’t care if the dog is scared, if it's attacked someone, that’s a problem," he said. "We have to think about public safety and whether it attacks out of fear or aggression, the end result of the same."
Selectman Jim Lane said the dog owners haven't done enough, soon enough.
"What bothers me is when Ms. Lee said if the dog gets loose, it's going to bite, and that’s from an owner," he said. "So I'm not going to sit by and wait for the dog to bite again. I think we should have the dog removed the town."
Kurland said just removing Mocha from town would make him another town's problem.
Kurland proposed testing the dog at the Lowell Humane Society for temperment, with the results reported back to the Board of Selectmen. Kurland said if the dog is determined to be vicious, selectmen may decide to banish or euthanize Mocha. Selectmen Pat Wojtas and George Dixon agreed with the proposal. Hanson and Lane both voted against the measure.
As part of the agreement, in the mean time before the dog is tested, Lee has to make sure Mocha wears a muzzle whenever he is outside the home, including in the fenced in back yard. If Mocha is seen without a muzzle, he will be euthanized.
The hearing was continued to the Board of Selectmen's July 16 meeting to hear the results of the temperment test.