Select Board order euthanasia in dangerous dog hearing

Dec 1, 2021

The Select Board voted on Nov. 30 to order the euthanasia of a dog who bit and seriously injured a man.

The owner of the dog in question, Adam Bruneau, was not present at the virtual meeting, but Ernie Trox, the man bitten, was.

Garry Buckminster, the director of Natural Resources, described the events.

On Oct. 15, Bruneau’s 9-year-old American bulldog named Flash ran through the gate toward Trox, who was taking his small dog for a walk on Naushon Rd. where he and Bruneau live. Trox leaned down to protect his dog, and the bulldog knocked him over and latched onto his arm — not releasing Trox until Bruneau ran over and intervened. Bruneau acted fast to get Flash off Trox and got towels to help staunch the bleeding.

Trox’s injuries were severe. The bite tore through his arm to the bone, causing significant damage to his tendons. Additionally, when he fell, he hit his head and sustained a brain bleed.

He was taken by ambulance to Tobey Hospital and later to St. Luke’s. Trox underwent one surgery that night to repair the damage to his arm, and a skin graft surgery several weeks later. He may need more surgery in the future, and is attending rehab sessions.

Trox said that he will never regain the full function of his arm, and said he is in at least some degree of pain every day. 

Trox said he doesn’t remember the incident itself: “I guess when I was slammed to the pavement and had the brain bleed, that kind of erased whatever memory of this horrible thing was happening.” 

Beyond the physical damage, Trox’s wife Elinor said that the attack has made the couple feel unsafe in their neighborhood.

“It kind of changed the culture of the neighborhood,” Trox said. “We used to feel we could walk all around the neighborhood and not worry about anything, and now even some of our neighbors who know about this worry about walking their children in front of the house.”

Dave Stahl, who lives across the street, said that he is very concerned about the danger the dog poses to his 11-year-old son and other neighborhood kids — including two who live with the dog. He added that he’s seen the neighbor with his dog off-leash.

Buckminster recommended that the dog be euthanized, but said that the board could postpone a final decision until a future date to give the owner a chance to weigh in.

“We’re dealing with a very powerful dog,” Buckminster said. “This isn’t a bite by a small breed — it did some serious damage.”

Select Board member Jim Munise said he would also be interested in allowing the owner to place the dog in a no-kill shelter at his expense. Buckminster said that a shelter wouldn’t place the dog with a new family.

Members of the board expressed their sadness, but felt that euthanasia was the necessary outcome.

“The nature of the threat from an animal like this is pretty extreme,” said Select Board member Peter Teitelbaum.

The board voted to order the dog’s euthanasia.

Bruneau has the opportunity to appeal the decision in District Court.