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Hearing Minutes

Town of Leicester

Selectboard Hearing Minutes


Wednesday, Wednesday, 6:30 P.M.



Members Present:  Diane Benware, Tom Barker, Ron Fiske, Ken Young, Brad Lawes


Others Present:  Paul Crosby, Animal Control Officer,  Charlotte Dayton, Robert Dayton, Richard Dayton, Dog Owners, Heidi Sutton and Sandra Trombley, Selectboard Secretary


 Hearing called to order at 6:40 p.m. by Chair. 


The Chair explained the Selectboard called the hearing due to a report of a dog bite from the Dayton’s dog.  The meeting is called to determine if the incident meets the criteria of a vicious dog according to the town’s Dog Ordinance.


The Chair explained the process. 


Chair explained that Sandy is here to take notes because it is a quasi judicial hearing.  All parties will be sworn in and give testimony.   The Board will hear from all parties. The Board will hear from the Animal Control Officer first and then the owner(s) of the dog.   The Board will ask questions and gather information, take that information under consideration, and then deliberate to see if it meets the criteria for a vicious dog and make a decision on a course of action.    Within 72 hours you will get written notification of the Order from the Selectboard.  A document will be prepared which contains the testimony, a section called the Findings of Fact; which is basically your testimony and a section called the Conclusions of Law where we talk about the different sections of the Dog Ordinance to guide our decision and the ending part of the document is what’s called, the Order; which call for the chaining of the dog, the muzzling of the dog, the euthanizing of the dog.  Those are all options available to the Board.


The Chair asked if there were any questions.  There were not.


Introductions were made.


For the record:  Charlotte Dayton, Robert Dayton, Richard Dayton & Heidi Sutton all at address:  3213 Lake Dunmore Road, Leicester, Vermont 05733.


Paul Crosby was sworn in. 


Paul explained he wasn’t the investigating officer, but he did follow up with the person bitten, Mike Erickson, from Castleton, Vermont.


On June 26, 2012, there was a complaint of a dog biting someone at 3213 Lake Dunmore Road.  It was a golden Labradoodle type of dog.  The owners were Richard, Robert & Charlotte Dayton.  The dog’s name is Rufus.  The person bitten was Mike Erickson from 1227 Rte.30 South, Castleton, Vermont.  When Paul talked with him he knew that it had been investigated by Brian Webb.  The Health Officer was notified and the Selectboard was notified.  Julie asked him to follow up with the person that was bitten.  He called Mike in the afternoon. 


Paul reported that Mike is a probation officer and he went to the residence on official business.  He knocked at the door.  Paul believed it to be the back door.  Mike didn’t get a response of anyone being home.  He turned around and was walking away and the dog came out of what appeared to be a doggie door and started attacking him.  He tried to brush him off to no avail.  He actually pepper sprayed the dog.  The dog dropped off a little bit and then he came back and attacked him again.  Mike received 9 puncture wounds when he was evaluated at the hospital. 


He finally made it back to his vehicle after being bitten.  Mike told Paul that out of his years of experience with working with people and animals, it was by far the worst attack he has ever had from a dog.  Paul hasn’t seen the dog, but he knows what a Labradoodle looks like.


Mike told Paul he would be out of work for a week and he was very worried that this could happen to another person or a young person walking down the road.  His main concern was that a young person would not be able to get the dog off of them. 


Paul talked with Sadona one time.  The Dayton’s were out of town at the time.  He tried calling to follow up to no avail.  He knew that the dog was going to be quarantined at the residence.


The Town Health Officer was supposed to talk with Mike Erickson.  Not sure if he did.  The Dayton’s did not talk with Jim Russo.  Paul assumes that the dog is still under quarantine.  His biggest concern is the safety of anyone trying to visit the house or walking by and having the dog get out of the house.  It’s Paul’s understanding that there was a bite last year to the Schwan’s delivery man.  There was no report to the Selectboard.  From what Paul was told, the delivery man walked up to the chained dog and was attacked.  Paul doesn’t know how much he was bitten.  There are Beware of Dog signs now, he doesn’t know if there were signs at that particular time.  You can see the signs from the road. 


Brad asked where Mike was bit. 


Paul informed that he was bitten in both arms and had 9 puncture wounds.  He tried shaking him off quite a few times.  The dog wouldn’t let go.


Brad asked if he said he went to the back door.


 Paul was not 100% clear as to which door he actually went to.


Brad asked why someone would go to the back door.


Paul said he thinks because the driveway leads up to the back door.  Paul said he was assuming he went to the back door.

Ken asked if this man lost any work because of the wounds.


Paul said he was going to be out of work for a week.  Paul didn’t return a phone call to him because he thought Jim Russo was going to call and didn’t want to have too many extra phone calls.


Dayton asked if Mike saw the signs. 


Paul stated that he would assume he saw the signs because they are in clear view, but it doesn’t give the right for the dog to bite someone.


Ken asked if this was the first time that Mike Erickson has been to the house.


Dayton said yes, others on official business never had a problem with the dog.


Richard stated that he was feeling that they already have a judgment against the dog. 


Ken asked if this was a scheduled visit.


Richard said no, it was not scheduled.


Robert Dayton stated that they found out today that Mike Erickson has been replaced by the previous officer, Bill Wile, who knows the dog.  He knows if the dog isn’t seen, you beep, because the dog is aggressive within a certain distance of the house.  Once they let you in the house, the dog is fine.


Robert explained that the family left the yard about the same time.  He put the dog on the porch.  They left the gate to the dog yard open by accident.  He’s got the doggie door to go out to do his business and of course, the gate was left open.  It’s the first time since we put the gate up that we left the gate open.  Bad timing.  They didn’t know Mike was coming.


Ken asked how many times this dog has bitten.


Robert stated twice.  The Schwan’s delivery man and this time.  The regular Schwan’s delivery man knew the dog and it was in the delivery log not to go to the door.  If they weren’t home, the delivery would be put in a box on the side of the house.  Again, they were gone that day and the temporary delivery man got out of the vehicle and went to the left door where the doggie door was instead of the right door.  The dog was on a cable and couldn’t reach the right door, but he could reach the left door.  There was a sign on the door that the dog could reach the door.  The dog is a barker so you can hear the dog.  Since that happened they put a fence up so he can’t get to the doors from the outside.



Dayton’s & Sutton sworn in:


Robert Dayton presented photos and explained each and explanation on back of each.  Photo of dog, driveway, two doors & signs, Beware of Dog signs,  fence, gate that was left open, cable run, electrical fence, dog on his chain, photos of where they have been broken into. 


He explained that they a need for a dog because they have been broken into many times.  They have had no complaints from neighbors or bicyclists or joggers.  He does not bother people from the front yard.  He is protective of the back area.  He doesn’t like people coming near their car.  He doesn’t bother people outside the car.


A letter from Nolan’s Auto Repair, Richard’s employer at Granger St., Rutland was presented.  The letter stated that they have had no problems with the dog when he goes there and has not been aggressive.


Charlotte Dayton stated that she talked with Mike Erickson while he was in the Emergency Room.  He explained to her that he saw the signs, read them and didn’t think twice about them.  He got out of the car and went to the door.  He heard the dog barking.  When he didn’t get a response, he went back to his car.  The dog appeared.  Rufus’ dog gate door opened and he thought he had to protect. 


Ken stated that it looked like the dog was doing his job, but it looks like human error caused this incident to happen.  Ken is concerned about human error happening and it happens to be a young child.  Ken is concerned that the dog bit 9 times and pepper sprayed and he still comes after you, there really isn’t much room for human error.  When you have a dog that is that protective of his facility, it concerns him.


Charlotte said that when she talked with Mike while he was at the Emergency Room he told her that Rufus got him.  All he wanted to know was the dog up-to-date with his shots.  He was very concerned and told her how to take care of the dog from the pepper spray.  He left a message on the phone.  He thought he was talking to Richard.


The dog was doing his job.  He is supposed to be there.  Charlotte said she wasn’t concerned about little children.  She doesn’t have a problem at Halloween or with their grandchildren.  She has kept the dog in the house for the ten days they have been instructed to and there are no signs of anything, so he’s fine.


Robert said there is no problem with us being home.  People can come and go.  He accepts anyone we let in the house.  He is protective when we are not home.  These two episodes were when we weren’t home.  It was human error.  Robert stated that he left the gate open and that was his mistake.  That was bad timing on everyone’s part.  The Schwan’s guy should not have gone to the door and it said so and he could see the dog and the doggie door.  They don’t need to be a vicious dog to be protective of their property.


Charlotte said it wouldn’t be a problem for them to put a gate across to stop people from using the back door.  She doesn’t want people using their back door. 


Robert stated that the next step he could do, is put a gate halfway up driveway and a sign to direct people to the front door.  Robert showed the Board with photos where the gate and doors were.


Paul stated that he was just appointed Animal Control Officer.  He volunteered.  He loves animals.  The information we have is what really happened.  This is the facts of what really happened.  Human error happens all the time.  Things happen.  Accidents happen.  Any pet is a family member.  To lose a family member is one of the hardest things to happen to a family.  Children are at risk, but the biggest thing he is saying is not to put the dog down.  That’s the last thing he wants to see happen to anyone.  What he wants to see is what we can do so it never happens again and to make it so other people are more aware of what’s happening.  Dogs do protect their property.  I would be very concerned that my dog would attack or bite someone.


Robert stated that this dog has developed this protectiveness on his own.  He wasn’t trained to do so.


Ken asked that in Robert’s opinion, if they had been home, would this have happened.


Robert said no, it would not have happened.


Ken asked if he would have an aggressive behavior if they were there in the home.


Robert said no, as an example, Sadona comes and goes.  A cousin comes up in deer season with friends.  He barks and lets them know someone is there.  If it is someone they don’t know, they put the dog up.  If they accept the person in the house, the dog is fine.


Brad asked if they are concerned when it’s a stranger coming in the house.  If someone knocked on the door and you let them in, and forgot the dog was right there, it sounds like you are concerned about the dog and you would deliberately put that dog in the hot tub room.  Do you always put them in a separate room the first time someone comes in?


Robert said it’s a safety thing.  He is aware that dogs can be unpredictable.  He’s been a mailman and understands what can happen when people say they won’t bite.  Robert stated that if he thought the dog was a vicious dog, he wouldn’t let the dog back in the house while you were in there to visit.  People don’t like to be jumped on.  Some people are afraid of dogs. A dog will sense fear.


Charlotte stated that she will let the dog out on the porch if she doesn’t know who they are.  If there is something she needs to address she can just scoot him out the dog door into his yard and close the dog door.


Chair asked if there were any other questions.  The chair explained that they would get written notification.


Paul is not clear on State Statute.

Ron stated that we are only enforcing our town Ordinance.


Mike Erickson did not attend meeting.  Paul said Mike’s biggest concern was someone else getting attacked or bit.


Ken stated that he thought these people had gone a long way in trying to prevent anything like this from happening.


Paul stated that he thought the signs on the porch should be more visible so they can be read from the driveway.


The Selectboard went into deliberative session at 7:40 P.M.


Motion by Tom that the dog be confined at all times within a physical restraining fence.  Place a gate or barrier halfway up driveway with a large sign directing people to use the front door.  Additional warning signage recommended to be easily read from a minimum of 50 feet.  Animal Control Officer will check for compliance within 30 days.  Second by Ron.  All in favor.  So approved.


Motion by Tom to adjourn @ 8:00 P.M.  Second by Brad.  All in favor.  So approved.




Respectfully submitted,


Sandra L. Trombley

Selectboard  Secretary