HANSON — The owners of an Anatolian Shepherd dog have until Tuesday, April 26, when the Board of Selectmen meet again to review the case after a dangerous or nuisance dog complaint was filed against their pet.
The Board would then follow up to ensure a fence has been completed, secured and inspected, and to check into whether the owners of the injured dog were offered some restitution.
“You’ve got to assure us that you take this seriously and that it won’t happen again,” Selectman Laura FitzGerald-Kemmett said. “There needs to be follow-up here.”
Selectmen held a hearing Tuesday, April 5 on the complaint filed by David and Louise Coates after an incident on Saw Mill Lane Thursday, March 24.
Animal Control officer Joseph Kenney recommended that fences be secured and non-breeding animals be altered. He also recommended the dog be muzzled and kept on a six-foot leash when walking off the property and confined on the property by a six-foot fence.
Coates said he would not be comfortable so long as the dog was there and urged the dog be removed from the neighborhood.
“We have no authority to have that dog moved for one incident,” Selectman Jim Hickey said. “You can’t ask us to do something that is out of the question.”
The attacking dog came from the address 808 West Washington St., according to the incident report, Town Administrator Lisa Green said.
“We had a small dog that was attacked by a larger dog,” Green said of the complaint. “There were significant injuries to the smaller dog and the police were called.”
The Coates, of 59 Saw Mill Lane, said that when David had taken the dog out for it’s morning walk around 6 a.m., and was walking through his side yard to the front of the house, what he initially thought was a coyote that attacked his dog.
“I tried to get the dog off [his dog], I was holding onto the leash, and trying to kick it,” he said tearfully. “I’m fine until I have to talk about it.”
He said his dog slipped her leash and all he could do was hit the attacking dog with the leash. His dog ran to the front porch with him behind her and the other dog seemed to follow them, he added.
“It didn’t seem interested in me, it wanted the dog,” he said.
After he was able to get in the house, he called the police.
“The dog was just wandering around the front, over the neighbor’s yard … tail wagging,” David Coates said about what he could see out his window. “It didn’t seem like the police had any issues to get it under their control.”
Police walked the dog down the street.
“It wasn’t just a bite, it was a mauling,” Louise Coates said.
“The extent of the damage to your dog is significant,” Selectmen Chairman Matt Dyer agreed, looking over the photos accompanying the complaint.
Louise said they had just taken their dog to the vet Monday and said her pet had to be anesthetized so redo everything because there was so much dead skin the stitches weren’t holding.
“I’m sorry you went through that,” Selectman Joe Weeks said, asking how the Coates’ dog is doing.
David Coates said she us under medication to keep her quiet.
“Physically, they say she should be fine, mentally, I’m not sure,” he said. “She’s certainly acting different and we’re leery about going out at night, now, knowing the dog is still over there.”
Louise Coates said she arms herself with a golf club when she has to take her pet for a walk.
“You should be able to go out in your own yard and feel safe and secure and not have to take out a golf club just because there’s a dog in the neighborhood,” Dyer said.
The dog’s owners Hassan Prashkov of 808 Washington St., had just moved to the address four months ago, but had bought it two years ago.
“The dog got over the fence,” he said of a garden fence that he had just repaired. He said his dog’s breed was developed for guarding livestock.
The American Kennel Club does not recommend that the breed be around other dogs, stating that the mastiff-type sighthounds, may be aggressive toward people and dogs they don’t know, especially without adequate socialization when they are young.
“It’s an accident,” Prashkov said. “Every time the dog barks, now, I’m nervous, too. I never expect[ed] something like that from this dog, because we’re still calling him puppy.”
The dog is 2 years old. Dogs usually mature mentally at between 1 and 2 years of age, depending on size, breed, socialization and other factors, according to the AKC.
“They’re very friendly with the kids and the humans,” Prashkov said. “They’re great to protect the unprotected people.”
He suggested the dog had been chasing a fox or something when it got out of the yard and saw the Coates’ dog.
“I don’t know what pulled the trigger,” he said.
FitzGerald-Kemmett asked the Coates how much their vet bill had been. Louise Coates said it was up to nearly $3,700.
“And we’re not done,” she said.
Selectman Kenny Mitchell asked Prashkov if he was willing to help the Coates’ with their veterinary bills. He indicated he would and would secure the fencing. Prashkov said his dog has never had other incidents and is licensed. He indicated that about 75 percent of the property is secured with a chain-link fence. The remainder out back was old wire livestock fence, similar to chicken wire in appearance, because the previous property owner had horses.
FitzGerald-Kemmett asked if he was confident a chain-link fence was sufficient and if he would consider an electric fence for livestock.
“That’s, I think, one of the solutions,” Prashkov said, noting he also has friends with a farm in Maine where the dog could be sent.
“I can’t afford for this to happen again,” he said, noting the breed is hard to train.
“I understand what he’s saying,” FitzGerald-Kemmett said, noting her family owned a sheep dog when she was younger.
Hickey had questions for Hanson police officer Brian Rodday, who responded to the call, including how he managed to control the dog.
Rodday said he carries a leash in his duty bag because he frequently receives calls about stray dogs. He waited in his cruiser while the dog circled the vehicle a time or two so he could judge how it was behaving.
“It approached me, it didn’t appear aggressive,” Rodday said about its behavior after he got out of the vehicle. “It wasn’t showing its teeth, it wasn’t growling — anything like that.”
When another officer arrived, they used treats to try to calm the dog and get it into the cruiser, but walked it home when it refused. Rodday said there was an incident over the summer when the puppies got out, which was how he recognized the breed.
“It’s a unique dog for around here,” Rodday said, indicating that Prashkov owned the male involved in the March 24 incident and a female that was at the property in July when the puppies were born. He said the litter of puppies was not planned.
“I’m a cat person,” Hickey said, “but I’ve never had an ‘accident’ with my cats. … We’ve always had our cats spayed or neutered.”
He asked if the dogs were altered. Prashkov said he was waiting until the dog involved in the attack to become 2 years old before having it neutered. Kenney said he was on vacation during the incident, but had been called when the puppy got out last summer.
“It sounds to me like it’s a perimeter issue and a security issue,” Selectman Joe Weeks said.