Sunday, 16 December 2018
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Selectmen, police deem pit bull dangerous

DANVERS — A pit bull that attacked a goldendoodle on Burley Farm Road this July has been deemed a dangerous dog by police, and Selectmen ordered its owners put a series of protections in place Tuesday.

Neeka, a 7-year-old blue spayed pit bull belonging to Trung and Sabrina Nguyen of 32 Burley Farm Road attacked a goldendoodle, Henry, belonging to their neighbor, LouAnn Strangie of 34 Burley Farm Road, on July 12. According to police reports from the July 12 incident, after Henry reportedly ran near the fence of the Nguyen’s back yard, Neeka escaped beneath the chain link fence and chased Henry back onto his owner’s property. Henry sustained open wounds to the neck and mouth, and required surgery because his skin also detached from the muscle. He was taken to Bulger Animal Hospital for treatment after the incident. His veterinary bill came to $520.

It wasn’t the first time Neeka allegedly attacked another dog, however. In June 2016, Coley and Michele Rybicki of 4 Barbara Road reported to police that Neeka bit the back leg of their dog, a Bichon Maltese named Daisy, while Michele Rybicki and Daisy were on a walk. Daisy’s veterinary bill came to $220.

Based on the recommendations of police Chief Patrick Ambrose, selectmen unanimously ordered the Nguyens on Tuesday to humanely restrain, supervise and confine Neeka when she is in their yard, which has a stockade fence, and to humanely muzzle and leash her whenever she is not at home. A plan for the containment of Neeka, including the details of the fencing in the yard, will be presented to selectmen the board’s Dec. 18 meeting.

Selectmen also ordered the Nguyens obtain insurance for a minimum of $100,000 within 30 days to insure them against any future claim, loss, damage, or injury to persons, pets, or property in the future. Neeka will also continue professional obedience training to correct her aggression toward other dogs, and her training plan will also be presented to the board on Dec. 18. Along with maintaining vaccinations and a dog license, the Nguyens were also ordered to reimburse the medical costs of the injured dogs owned by Strangie and the Rybickis, also within 30 days. 

Throughout the discussion, however, selectmen expressed concern about the possibility of future attacks.

“I’m not convinced that the excellent recommendations of the police chief can adequately assure that this dog will be kept contained and away…,” Selectman David Mills said. “The threat to other dogs and to people…it appears to me – from what I have read – there is a history of problems containing this dog and being attentive to the needs of fencing. How a dog with this vicious temperament can be permitted to escape from a yard once, OK, but it seems as though it’s more than once.”

“I’ve worked with animals all my life, I live on a farm,” Selectman Bill Clark said. “We’ve had countless dogs. I’ve dealt with thousands of dogs of my life. I just don’t want to be a party if something happens in the future, I’ll feel terrible…The few times I’ve been bitten it was when dogs have been fighting together. It’s pretty hard to intervene.”

“When I first read through this, my first thought was this dog has to be put down,” Selectwoman Diane Langlais said. “But…I understand you are trying to follow rules and regulation and that this dog is dog aggressive, not human aggressive. Although, I’m scared to death with this dog being in a neighborhood. One small kid’s hand gets put down…I’ve never met this dog and I’m scared of it.”

Prior to the meeting, Sabrina Nguyen said she thought Ambrose’s recommendations to selectmen were fair, although she said she wanted Neeka to be able to remain unmuzzled when in a vehicle.

Nguyen also said she was disappointed that Ambrose said that the attack on Strangie’s goldendoodle was “unprovoked.” She claims that Henry provoked Neeka by running along the fence of her property. She said police never questioned her 13-year-old son, who she said was the only person to see the incident from start to finish. 

“The only thing that actually saddens me is his last comment of it being an unprovoked incident,” Nguyen said. “It is disturbing. The one witness from the start to the end was my son and no one ever talked to him. It was provoked. The dog was on my property.”

After the meeting Tuesday, Trung Nguyen also said Neeka was provoked.

“The dog was provoked,” Trung Nguyen said. “The dog was on our property.”

He also said Neeka did not dig beneath the fence, as selectmen suggested during Tuesday’s meeting, and said that some selectmen had inaccurate information and did not attend a Sept. 19 hearing at the police station that helped inform Ambrose’s decision and recommendations.

The Nguyens will have 10 days to appeal the decision by selectmen, and their attorney, Jeremy Cohen of Boston Dog Lawyers LLC, said they will consider appealing. He accused two selectmen of wanting to euthanize Neeka, selectwoman Diane Langlois and David Mills. 

“We’re going to look at it,” Cohen said. “Two of the board members who want to kill the dog never went to the hearing. They are making facts up because they want to kill the dog.”

“These comments by two board members were very dangerous,” he added.

Kelsey Bode can be reached at 978-338-2660 or Follow her on Twitter @Kelsey_Bode


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