Sunday, 25 September 2022
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Holliston board listens to complaints about alleged problem pooch

“I am trying to give Orlando a comfortable retirement,” owner Sarah Villa said, of the 10-year-old dog. “I just don’t feel like he needs to be put down, I don’t feel like he’s a danger.”

HOLLISTON – The fate of Orlando, accused of attacking another dog on Stonybrook Drive, is up in the air.

“I walk with mace. I have a baseball bat at all my doors. I yell at my children, who are grown children, to watch that dog,” Sue Delaney told selectmen at a hearing Monday night. “It really affected me, and still does. I dream about it. Our dog has the right to be safe and currently I don’t feel like it is and I worry about the neighbors.”

Orlando’s owner does not deny her dog, characterized as a 65-pound mixed breed rescue animal, attacked Delaney’s Labrador, Keely, across the street in early November. Monday night marked the first time Orlando’s owners have appeared before selectmen, after neighbors’ attempts to settle the issue among themselves were unsuccessful.

“I am trying to give Orlando a comfortable retirement,” owner Sarah Villa said, of the 10-year-old dog. “I just don’t feel like he needs to be put down, I don’t feel like he’s a danger.”

Keely was not taken to the veterinarian that evening, but Delaney said the 11-year-old dog sustained “puncture wounds,” which she cleaned and cared for at home. Delaney’s finger was cut when she grabbed Orlando’s jaw to pull the dog off her own, she said.

“Right now it is an isolated incident,” Animal Control Dona Walsh said. “I do take seriously that Mrs. Delaney was injured.”

Walsh emphasized that Orlando did not attack Delaney, but that she was injured when she got between the dogs.

Villa said she has been especially careful with Orlando since the November attack. She walks the dog on a harness, and took him to dog-training classes. Orlando does not go outside off-leash or off the tether in her parents’ backyard, she said, and he does not go outside unaccompanied.

“I feel like we’ve done everything as far as handling Orlando since,” Villa said. “It’s not like we aren’t taking this seriously.”

She lamented that several dogs in town are often off-leash against local bylaws, but said she has navigated those situations without further incident when walking Orlando.

Orlando is not aggressive toward people, she said, but he is “reactive” to other dogs. Right now, she said, that means he barks at them.

“She didn’t think he was ever going to be nonreactive to dogs,” Villa said, of the trainer’s advice. “I’m not downplaying it, I do take this very seriously. … She just basically said ‘you need to train the heck out of the dog.’”

She rescued Orlando in October, she said. She and the dog have since lived at her parents’ house on Stonybrook Drive, while she tries to find a dog-friendly apartment in which Orlando is comfortable. A skin infection prevents Orlando from being neutered, Villa said, but it’s an operation she hopes to accomplish as soon as possible.

Walsh refrained from suggesting anything specific for Orlando, but recommended ideas for a dog of his size. Those included a collar and harness combination when leashed, fencing, and a soft muzzle.

“I think if you have a dog that’s dog-reactive, and you have neighbors that are concerned, it would ease the concern of it, the soft muzzle,” Walsh said. “Even if he gets loose, there’s very little he’s going to be able to do to another dog.”

From the audience, Delaney suggested Villa take the dog out of town.

Selectmen decided to continue the hearing to their July 9 meeting.

Alison Bosma can be reached at 508-626-3957 or Find her on Twitter at @AlisonBosma.


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