SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

February 14, 2013

Dog confined to yard after attack

By Jonathan Phelps
Staff writer

---- — WENHAM — Amy, the 5-year-old boxer who attacked a woman and her pug on Enon Road in October, is not allowed to be walked in that neighborhood again.

The decision by Animal Control Officer Stephen Kavanagh came after a public hearing last month “to consider a restraint of the dog or other action deemed necessary.”

Tracy Conley of 7 Hilltop Drive filed a complaint with Kavanagh after the attack, which took place Oct. 6. During the attack, Amy broke loose from owner Susan Lawson of 30 Hilltop Drive and went after Lola, Conley’s 20-pound pug.

Conley said Amy bit her several times on her left hand and back. The bites required a trip to Beverly Hospital, where Conley received seven stitches on her hand. Lola required five stitches for her bite wounds.

“There is no contention of this fact amongst the parties,” Kavanagh wrote in his decision. “While Mrs. Conley was trying to protect her dog, she was inadvertently bitten by Mrs. Lawson’s dog. I do feel Amy did not bite Mrs. Conley purposely during this encounter.”

Kavanagh said Amy will be required to go through “extensive training and rehabilitation.” He said Lawson must also purchase an appropriate leash and restraint, place locks on all fence gates, and have brackets installed in any low area of the fence where Amy might be able to jump out.

Conley said Tuesday that she is disappointed with Kavanagh’s decision and is looking into appealing it.

“My biggest concern is if the dog gets out,” Conley said. “What type of training is it going to take to make sure it doesn’t attack another dog or person?”

She said she’s not confident that any amount of training will make her feel safe in the neighborhood. While Conley said during the hearing that she thought Amy should be put down, she would feel comfortable if the dog was turned over to a rescue organization, she said.

“I don’t want the dog in the neighborhood anymore,” she said. “I do not walk anywhere near her house anymore either if I am alone or with my dog. I won’t let my children walk in the neighborhood.”

Conley said six or seven written statements were submitted to Kavanagh as evidence from other neighbors detailing other attacks to both humans and dogs. Those residents were told they could not speak during the public hearing, she said.

“One of the statements was from a woman who was bitten in the leg without a dog with her,” Conley said.

Conley also questions why Kavanagh wrote in his decision that she was “inadvertently” bitten.

“Is it OK (Amy) attacked my dog?” she asked.

Lawson could not be reached for comment.

During the public hearing, Lawson said she would not walk Amy in the neighborhood again and she had made improvements to the fence around her property.

“I feel absolutely confident that I have total control of Amy now,” she said. “Amy has never tried to jump that fence. There is not one incident I know of where she has gotten out of the fence, so I feel quite comfortable that she is secured in the yard.”

Kavanagh wrote that animal control will monitor the progress and safeguards as detailed in the decision.

Staff writer Jonathan Phelps can be reached at 978-338-2527 or by email at jphelps@salemnews.com. Follow him on Twitter at JPhelps_SN.