Wareham Selectmen postpone 'dangerous dog' hearing after owner not properly notified

Jul 11, 2018

A mailing error postponed a decision by Selectmen that could deem an Australian shepherd named Daisy as a dangerous dog allowing restrictions on the animal. It is accused of creating a “nonstop chaotic situation” on Great Neck and Lydia’s Island Roads, according to neighbors.

On Tuesday, board members opened a hearing addressing several complaints from neighbors who said the dog is violent, aggressive and injured another dog in May by biting it on the neck.

“I’ve been told the dog is repeatedly loose and acting aggressive,” said Animal Control Officer Cheryl Gorveatt-Dill.

She said she’s received many complaints regarding Daisy, including on May 29, May 22 and shortly before Tuesday’s hearing. Five residents testified before Selectmen saying the dog broke out of its owner’s home by running through a screen door on multiple occasions. Also, its aggressive behavior is frightening, they said, and expressed concerns it may eventually harm a child in the neighborhood.

“The issue is the owner can’t handle the dog,” said Gorveatt-Dill, adding Daisy is a medium-sized dog weighing approximately 50 pounds.

Daisy’s owner, Sandra Crossman, was not present to defend herself against the accusations. Gorveatt-Dill said Crossman was notified verbally and planned to attend the hearing.

Under Massachusetts state law, Selectmen may deem a dog as “dangerous.” Once that’s done, restrictions, such as forcing an owner to install fencing or requiring the animal be muzzled outside its owner’s property, may be put in place.

Before they planned to vote, Selectmen learned Crossman had not been notified via certified mail of the hearing. Because of that, the hearing was postponed to a date to be determined.

“The owner has a right to cross examine what you said,” Town Counsel Richard Bowen informed the neighbors. In the meantime, he recommended Gorveatt-Dill order Crossman to tether the dog in the interest of public safety until the hearing could be completed. Gorveatt-Dill said she would notify Crossman of that decision Tuesday night.

Selectmen also ordered two dogs owned by a Parkwood Beach resident be named “at-risk.” The designation lasts for two years and will lapse after that time if no other incidents are reported.

During that hearing, residents said the animals – an airedale terrier and a golden doodle – were involved in fights with other neighborhood dogs. As a result, the owner was ordered to install a 4-foot fence high around his property, muzzle the dogs when off the property and use a leash no longer than 4-feet when walking the animals.