Selectmen set safety conditions for two dogs

Sep 16, 2020

Wareham Selectmen set safety conditions on two dogs at a meeting Tuesday night after hearing cases that the dogs may be dangerous following two incidents this summer.

In both cases, there was some debate about the facts of the incident.

On August 20, Lindsay Pease was walking the family dog with her six-year-old daughter and son near Thaddeus France’s house. As they passed, France’s pit bull snuck out the front door, which had been left open.

After a brief commotion, Pease’s daughter was bitten on the arm, receiving a minor puncture wound.

Pease and France’s family both had different interpretations of what happened. While Pease said France’s dog ran out and bit her daughter, France’s daughter said it was the Pease family’s own dog that bit the girl.

Animal Control Officer Cheryl Gorveatt-Dill said it was impossible to know exactly what happened or which dog bit the girl.

However, she said, it was clear that the incident would not have happened if the France dog hadn’t been unsecured and off the France property. She also noted that the France family had no previous issues.

The selectmen agreed with her assessment, and voted to deem the dog “at risk” of being dangerous. They also imposed several conditions to prevent a future incident. The France family must install something like a safety door to keep the dog from getting out even if a kid leaves the door unlocked, and the dog should only be walked by those able to control it.

In the second case, which took place on July 14, Denise Wolk was walking her three dogs — two small beagles and a teacup yorkie — past Carl and Denise Schulz’s home, as she did every day. 

After she and the dogs had passed the home, the Schulz’s dog Sierra, a blue tick hound, ran out over the electric fence and towards Wolk and the dogs. 

According to Gorveatt-Dill’s report, Sierra then attacked Gracie, a small beagle owned by Wolk. In the incident, which was over within a minute, Gracie sustained life-threatening wounds to her abdomen and other injuries to her leg and tail.

Carl Schulz quickly came and got Sierra, and the Schulzes agreed to pay for all of Gracie’s vet bills. They also hired a dog trainer, closed off the back gate that Sierra had run through, and turned up the electric fence.

Gorveatt-Dill responded to the incident and said Sierra must be quarantined from other dogs for 10 days and should not be loose in the yard, with only an electric fence along with the Schulz’s post and rail yard fence to secure her.

Despite that condition, there was a later incident when Sierra ran over toward Wolk and her dogs, contained only by the electric fence.

The Schulzes brought several character witnesses for Sierra, along with a trainer who discussed the steps they had been taking.

While the selectmen and Gorveatt-Dill agreed that all parties were responsible and doing their best, the electric fence and post-and-rail fence were not sufficient to contain Sierra, who meets the legal criteria to be deemed a dangerous dog.

Gorveatt-Dill and the selectmen agreed that the dog was dangerous, and that the Schulzes needed to install a secure fence in their yard or a pen to keep her contained. They must also walk her only on a strong four-foot leash.