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Huskies gone wild

Selectboard orders owner to control dogs or face penalties

NEWFANE—A Newfane dog breeder has been ordered by the Selectboard to control her dogs, or she could risk losing her kennel license, and pay a $500 fine.

Samantha Rivera’s huskies have flown their coop three times in six months, resulting in three domestic animal deaths. At the Dec. 21 regular Selectboard meeting, Rivera told the board she had 11 adult huskies, and one was pregnant.

Animal Control Officer Michael Young told the board he had received two calls about Rivera’s dogs, and there was an additional incident prior to his taking the position. On Nov. 30, Young said a person living on Blueberry Extension alerted him to the pack of dogs running around his house “all day.”

Winchester Stables had a visit from Rivera’s huskies on Dec. 6. The third event occurred in July.

All three incidents led to the loss of residents’ animals. Two chickens and one goat died as a result of the dogs being loose. According to Rivera’s statement at the Selectboard meeting, the dogs were playing with the goat and it drowned in a pond. She said she offered to reimburse the owners of the animals for their losses.

“The dogs are very friendly and healthy,” Young said. “They’re not vicious,” he added, “They just get out.”

He noted that his concern, as Animal Control Officer, is for the health and welfare of all of Newfane’s livestock and wildlife.

Rivera told the board she was “doing everything I can to keep them secure,” but, “they’re escape-artists.” She detailed the new fencing, and electric fences, she has installed to try to contain her dogs. Rivera said the culprit was likely a gate the dogs had manipulated to allow their flight, and she has since repaired it.

Selectboard members assured Rivera of the gravity of the situation, noting Vermont law permits livestock and pet owners to shoot threatening animals.

The statute, under Title 20, Chapter 193, says, “A domestic pet or wolf-hybrid found wounding, killing or worrying another domestic pet or wolf-hybrid, a domestic animal or fowl may be killed when the attendant circumstances are such that the killing is reasonably necessary to prevent injury to the animal or fowl which is the subject of the attack."

They also told Rivera she is running afoul of local laws. Vice-Chair Carol Hatcher assured Rivera her inability to control her dogs puts her in violation of Newfane’s dog ordinances.

“Because we’ve had three incidents, I think it’s vital we’re completely sure that your dogs are in control by you 24/7. I’m a little concerned...this is repeating itself, and it’s getting a little more serious with the death of people’s livestock... This is absolutely unacceptable,” Hatcher told Rivera.

Board member Mike Fitzpatrick was more blunt.

“I don’t want to hear about them getting out again,” he said.

His recommendation was “to take them away if you can’t control them."

Administrative Assistant Shannon Meckle noted the only time the Selectboard can order a dog euthanized is if it bites a person on public lands. But, the board can vote to issue a $500 fine or revoke the owner’s kennel license at the next offense. Fitzpatrick made a motion to that effect, and it was approved.

Young noted Rivera has been proactive in assisting him with his efforts, including notifying him when her dogs were loose, and helping him round them up. Rivera submitted her enhanced fence and gate plans to the board, and to Young, who said he is satisfied they are in compliance with established guidelines.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #339 (Wednesday, January 13, 2016). This story appeared on page C1.

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