By Thomas D’Agostino
WEBSTER - Two dangerous dog hearings were held during the Board of Selectmen Meeting on Monday February 4, due to injuries sustained by three residents in town. On November 20, 2012, Kim Moberg was attacked while running when a dog owned by Sean and Amy hazard broke its leash and escaped through a fence. Moberg, who was bitten several times, spent a week in the hospital and contracted a bone infection due to the bites. She is also undergoing therapy for her left hand. Moberg stated that she has run by the home on her usual route for the last eighteen months. Every time she has run by the home in the last six months, the dog barks “viciously.”
When the dog attacked her from behind, she stood still and screamed until the owner came out and called the dog off. According to Moberg, the dog had never been loose before.
Amy Hazard spoke on behalf of her dog, Max, a three-and-one-half-year-old mixed breed. The dog managed to break its rubber-coated cable and attack Moberg. Since the attack, the Hazards have used a stronger tether, obtained a kennel and have made sure the dog is never out of the kennel when unattended. In regard to the dog barking, Hazard stated, “He’s a dog, he barks at everything.”
Webster Dog Control Officer Michelle LaFleche noticed the cable was broken when she arrived at the scene. She suggested that they purchase the kennel and obtain a stringer cable. The Hazards have complied with those requests but LaFleche also suggested a “good strong management of the dog.”
The board decided that the dog be evaluated by a veterinarian or behavior specialist and then go through training. The documentation for such measures must be presented to the board.
The second hearing involved an incident that took place on Sunday, January 6, 2013. The victim was a minor who was bitten by a dog on Day Street when the animal rushed through the open gate and attacked the child. The child’s grandmother was there to help but the child sustained minor injuries to her left hand and arm. The injuries were not as serious as they could have been due to the fact that the child was wearing a coat.
The dog’s owner, Christy Pinhoperdigao, has since had the dog muzzled and installed a special gate to keep the four-and-one-half-year old mixed breed dog from harming anyone else. There was one other occasion where an adult male was bitten by the dog during a church social. A mail carrier refused to deliver to the address for fear the dog might bite so Pinhoperdigao, a schoolteacher, purchased a mailbox and had it placed on the outside of the property. Father Adam Reid of St. Anne’s expressed his concerns over the dog being in such close proximity of the church, school, youth center, food pantry and parking lot. There is a sidewalk across the street that is very busy at times and became a major concern due to the volume of people who use it.
Heather Sanford, a witness for Pinhoperdigao, stated that she has three children who play with the dog all the time and that the dog is gentle and passive and they always make sure the gate is closed.
Another witness whose children attend St. Anne’s School expressed his concern over the issue. “I am sure the dog is great with the kids it lives with. It doesn’t live with my kids and it doesn’t know my kids.”
Other witnesses attested that the dog was not vicious and might just need the benefits of obedience school.
The board made a very hard decision. Selectman Mark Dowgiewicz stated that he felt for the dog having to be muzzled and that is no way for the animal to have to go through life. However, having the dog in such close proximity of the busy area after two incidents prompted them to have the dog relocated until Ms. Pinhoperdigao, who is moving from the area, finds a new home. In the meantime, the shelter will hold the dog for thirty days if needed. Father Reid offered to pay an extra fourteen days out of his own pocket for expenses if necessary as well.
In other business, the Mohegan Bowl was given permission to open the bar area while renovations to the kitchen are being completed. This permission is contingent on the Board of Health compliance for the bar area. The bar is slated to open Friday, February 8.
The warrant for the Town Meeting on March 11 was approved, as was the Bay Path ballot. A vote to approve the payment of liabilities incurred during the fiscal year 2013 in excess of available appropriations for snow and ice removal pursuant to Massachusetts general Laws, Chapter 44, Subsection 31D also passed.