Manchester sets restrictions on pit bull who killed another dog
By Patrick McArdle
STAFF WRITER | March 30,2013
MANCHESTER — The Select Board issued an order that a local pit bull be banned from public parks and schools and restricted it to being leashed and muzzled while outside after hosting a “vicious dog hearing” Thursday during which they determined the pit bull had killed a neighbor’s Chihuahua on March 21.
The hearing was very unusual for Manchester. Ivan Beattie, chairman of the Select Board, said there hadn’t been another one in the town in the 30 years he’s been on the board.
After hearing from both the town’s animal control officer, Manchester Police Officer Craig Watros, and the pit bull’s owner, Vanessa Roberts, the Select Board issued an order about the pit bull, Dozer, who has been in the town’s custody since March 21.
The order called Dozer a “considerable enforcement issue” and said Roberts had not been compliant with the town’s dog ordinances.
Watros, who has been the animal control officer for 18 months, said he had received about 20 complaints about Dozer. He said during the hearing that he has written five tickets related to Dozer and impounded him at least four times.
The order, which will remain in effect for the rest of Dozer’s life, bans the pit bull from public parks and school properties. Dozer must be leashed and muzzled while outside and can’t be around children except those who live at Roberts’ home.
The Select Board also ordered the police to “enforce this order with vigilance and the highest level of commitment” and set the fine for violation of the order at $500.
During the hearing, the Select Board, which was meeting for a quasi-judicial hearing, received testimony from Watros, Roberts, Joanne Corey, who reported the attack on her son’s Chihuahua, and others. Sgt. Patrick Owens, of the Manchester Police Department, presented the department’s case while Roberts, who appeared without an attorney, represented herself.
Corey said she was leaving her home March 21 when she saw Dozer, a dog she knew, attacking one of the three Chihuahuas who live in her home. She said Dozer had been at her home before and attacked one of the Chihuahuas as least three times.
On March 21, she told the Select Board, she yelled at Dozer and he ran off. She said she had to go pick up her granddaughter from school but when she returned, her dog was on the porch and “hanging its head.”
Corey said she took the dog to the police department to report the attack and then to a veterinarian. When she got home, she got a call from the veterinarian’s office and learned the dog had died.
Watros said he checked with the veterinarian’s office and learned the Chihuahua had been bruised and had a bite wound. While he testified that he had no conclusive evidence that the bite had come from Dozer, Watros said he was told the bite mark was consistent with the bite mark of a pit bull.
Watros also told the board that he had never seen Dozer be vicious. On March 21, Watros led Dozer to the police car and the dog went inside without incident.
Roberts, her father and a neighbor testified that Dozer was a gentle dog who was not aggressive with other animals or children.
According to Roberts, who called Dozer “her baby,” the pit bull had not left her home March 21.
Town Manager John O’Keefe said the Select Board had taken action according to the town’s ordinances to place restrictions on the dog. Board members would not have been able to order Dozer euthanized unless he had been accused of biting a human being, O’Keefe said.