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Meeting Minutes

Town of Leicester

Special Selectboard Meeting Minutes


Wednesday, June 17, 2009




** See subsequent minutes for any changes


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


Absent:  Bob Oliver


Others Present:   Julie Delphia, Clerk/Treasurer, Jeff McDonough, First Constable, Ward Mann, Property Owner, Alison Harvey, Horse Owner, Sally King, Dog Owner, Amanda Thiene, Sandra Trombley, Secretary


Call to Order:  Special Meeting called in regard to a vicious dog complaint.  Meeting called to order at 6:34 p.m. by Chair. 


The purpose of this meeting tonight is to gather information and conduct a hearing regarding a vicious dog complaint.  The incident took place Sunday, June 14, 2009. 


The Chair explained that legal counsel advised that the meeting be conducted in a similar manner as one that would be conducted for tax purposes.  as a hearing.  Before anyone speaks, the Chair will ask you to swear that the testimony you will give is the truth and nothing but the truth..  It is a serious matter.  Because the Town of Leicester doesn’t have a police force of its own or a Sheriff right here, the Selectboard acts as the Municipal Governing Body and it is the responsibility of the Selectboard to gather the information, take it all under consideration, take it under advisement and issue a decision.  The Chair asked if there were any questions.


Ken asked to identify the owner of the dog for the minutes.  Sally King spoke that the dog was initially Amanda’s.  Amanda and her son moved to Connecticut.  They couldn’t take the dog.  My daughter is actually the owner of the dog.  My daughter is the one who chose to keep the dog for Amanda because they couldn’t take the dog in the apartment they were renting. 


Ron asked, “How old is your daughter?”  Sally answered, “16”.


Ken asked, “So you are actually the keeper, you are actually the owner of the dog; she did not sell the dog to your daughter.”  Sally stated she gave the dog to her.  Sally stated she is actually the keeper; she is in care of the dog. Ken stated that the dog actually belongs to her as her daughter is a minor.


Ken asked, “So you would say you are the keeper/owner of the dog?”  Sally said, “Not the owner, no.”  She would not say she was the owner.  She chose not to be the owner of the dog.  My daughter is the one who chose ownership.  Sally stated she is the one that helps in caring for the dog.


The Chair explained Title 20 V.S.A. the definition of “Owner”.  “Owner” means any person who owns a domestic pet or wolf hybrid and includes any person who has actual or constructed possession pet or hybrid.  The term also includes those persons who provide food or shelter to the domestic pet or wolf hybrid.  The Chair asked, “Would you agree that you are…”


Sally stated, “that I provide a shelter and food, sure, so if you want to call me owner.  The Chair stated that according to State Statute definition, Sally is the owner.  Sally said, “Ok”.


Chair called upon Alison first.  Alison raised her right hand and took the oath.  The Chair asked her to provide information as she has it.


On Sunday evening she had taken her partner out to dinner in Rochester.  There is no cell service in that area.  On our way home, they came into Goshen where there was phone service and she obviously had a message.  She checked her phone and it is her daughter in a panic trying to reach her, telling her that her horse has been attacked and that Jessie Disorda had intervened.  He had heard the attack and came around the house and the dog, as he stated, was hanging from underneath her horse.  He tried to shoo the dog away and chase the dog away.  The dog would not stop, kept returning after the horse.  He finally had to take a shovel to the dog and beat the dog off of her horse.  In this whole incident, she received a very serious injury, which I have pictures of.  Because the dog would not let go, she is missing a large piece of flesh that will take quite a time to heal.  Jessie then came up to the house, once he had gotten the dog away from the horse, and then the dog ran over to Sally’s, he then left Bradley, his son, with the horse to keep her calmed down, went up the driveway and my kids came down and were dealing with it when we returned home.  By the time we had returned home, my son had walked the horse up to the barn which is at the upper level of our property and secured her in a stall.  When we got there she was still bleeding rather profusely.  It did, let up.  She was made aware of what had happened.  She went in to make phone calls.  She has everything documented, everybody she called, the time that she called.  In reaching out to Sally, she verified that she did have a black pit bull with a white chest and a red harness which is what she had asked.  She told Sally that her dog had been witnessed by Jessie Disorda attacking her horse and she denied at that time that the dog had been outside.  Sally said she had been home all day long and all evening and the dog had not been outside.  Sally said it couldn’t possibly have been her dog.  It’s Alison’s understanding that Sally has spoken to the Dog Warden and revamped that statement.  Alison passed photos to the Board and explained that they were taken after the vet had come.   She said it was a gaping wound.  She has a statement from the vet describing the wound.  She has the vet bills.  She said there in a long heal here.  The vet wrote in her statement that horse the is missing about a 4x5 inch piece of flesh, the wound was about 3” deep and there were deep puncture wounds inside.  We’re not out of the woods yet, infection is our enemy at this point.  It will require a long course of antibiotic treatment.  Alison stated she was horrified that this happened.  She has a very peaceful horse, she was on their property, properly contained, and it just should never have happened.  She is under veterinary care and the vet knows she will need more care.  She did the best she could to stitch the wound, but because there was so much flesh missing, there is still a fairly good  open wound there that will have to just scab in and hope that this never happens again, to anyone ever.  She did contact the State Police.  Once she got off the phone with Sally, she made a call to the veterinary.  It was an emergency call, so she had to wait for them to call back. She, in turn made a call to the State Police and they told her to call the Animal Control Officer.  She did try several times to get the Animal Control Officer that night to no avail.  She did not get an answer.  She has documented the times that she did call him.  The State Police also recommended that she reach out to a town official and documented that.  That’s when she called Diane.  Again, she tried the next morning first thing, calling Julie because she wanted to know whether this dog had had its rabies shots.  She tried again to get the Dog Warden with Julie’s assistance in giving her another number, still to no avail; Julie recommended that she get in touch with the First Constable.  So, she did speak to Jeff.   He actually came to the property.  The vet did arrive on Monday.  So, that really sums it all up.


Ken asked questions about the photos.  He asked if these photos are of the same wound.  Alison said they are the same wounds.  There are other wounds on the horse.  She tried to take pictures of the puncture wounds on her hind legs, but the camera did not pick them up.  She has another 2” laceration on her haunch which did not require treatment other than cleaning it; they did not have to stitch it.   But, her back hocks, which is typically where a dog will try to attack a horse, to try to bring them down and hamstring them, she has several puncture marks in her back legs. 


She put up a good fight and it’s a blessing that Jessie was there.  And Jessie, I have to tell you, really put his life in his own hands because that dog could have turned on him.  Jessie saw something not good happening and he did what he did.  He did say that she was just about ready to go down and I think we can all understand what would have happened if he had gotten her down. 


Tom asked Julie to make copies of the materials that Alison had so they can submit it for the record.


Ward Mann was sworn in.  Ward commented it was an unfortunate situation.  The horse was fenced and properly contained and its unfortunate this had to happen at all.  The horse is extremely personable and all of the bordering neighbors treat her as a back yard pet.  She gets treats from Crams, Disorda’s.  It’s a shock that this had to happen in what was a good environment.


The Chair asked if there have been any incidents prior to this time.  About three weeks ago, he was in the garden, and there were two dogs traveling together, the pit bull and a husky.  Jeff Lee and Ward were out working in their gardens.  The two dogs just came upon them as if they were lost.  We thought they had deserted a hiker or something.  When we went to try to reach out to the dogs, the pit bull didn’t want anything to do with us and turned around and headed north, back where he came from.  We didn’t know at the time, that they were just going over to Sally’s.  Mr. Lee got hold of the other dog and made some phone calls and tried to find out who owned the dog and who it belonged to.  We were able to track it down to a vet in North Clarendon.  But, anyway, the dogs had been on the property before.  There wasn’t much of an incident there except that when it came to people contact, it was the pit bull that decided he didn’t want anything to do with us.  Alison stated that they thought they were lost.  They had never seen them before and it’s always our hope to help people whenever there is a lost dog and reunite them.  We weren’t aware they were pretty much next door.


Alison stated she would like to thank the Town.  They have been very prompt in acting on this.  She appreciates that.


Sally King was sworn in.  To start, Sally commented on the three week ago incident.  She was outside playing with a two year old grandson that they have and the dogs were allowed to be outside to run and exercise.  When she noticed that they had left the property, she instantly started yelling for them and only the pit bull came back.  Amanda wasn’t home at the time, and when she came home, she let her know that it was odd that the other dog hadn’t come back and she had been out there yelling constantly.  Sally decided to go drive and look for the white dog.  She didn’t know his name, but he had taken and hooked the dog.  So, she knew that there was an incident of the dogs leaving the property. The evening that Muffy (Alison) called me, she was shocked.  One because she didn’t know the time of the incident.  She told Muffy that the dog was inside all day, not that she was home all day.  We were gone all day.  The dogs were inside all day.  She got home about 7:30 or so and she and the two year old went outside to play again, and she allowed the dogs to run around the house.  She has a run for the dogs, but when she is outside in the yard, she allows the dogs to run.  She stays very aware and since that incident three weeks ago, she’s even more aware.  We were back inside for well over an hour when I received the phone call from Muffy.  Both dogs were in the house.  So, she was very shocked and surprised of her phone call and of what happened.  A few months back, something actually attacked the black dog at our house that was outside for twenty minutes, so she was thinking that possibly the same thing happened because it was in the early evening 7:30 – 8:00 when this happened to the black dog.


Ken asked if the black dog was the pit bull.  Sally said, yes.


He came in with a big gash in his side and a bruise on his leg and stuff.  She brought him to the vets and I have our vet bill for that.  That vet thought they were puncture wounds and lacerations from something biting him open.  So, she was surprised by the phone call.  The dogs there and as far as she knew the dog never left her property that evening when they were outside playing for a half hour or so.  He was inside and she was inside getting the two year old ready for bed.  We had been in the house for well over an hour.  The dog had no blood on him.  She checked out the dog after Muffy had called.  He did not look like it could have been him.  We had to cut our conversation short because she was getting another phone call.  So, that’s how everything had ended with kind of a short phone call.  Sally was in surprise of it all and not sure it was our dog or our fault.  She waited and actually thought someone would come to the house to look at the dog and see.  The dog should have blood on it if it had done something that severe.  She would have thought someone would have come that night and looked at the dog.  Monday the Dog Warden didn’t really look at the dog either.  He asked if he could.  When he came to the door, the dog barked pretty scarily, and he didn’t want anything to do with checking the dog out.  He gave me a couple of tickets because she doesn’t have the dog registered.  She hasn’t taken the time or had the money to do so.  He came back a little while later with Jeff and gave us the notice to come to this meeting.   That’s all she said she knew.  That’s her knowledge of the whole evening. 


Ken asked if she was aware of any surrounding neighbors that have a pit bull.  She stated she did not, but did not know what anybody has.  There was another black dog when we went over to get our white dog three weeks before.


Ken confirmed that her dog was black and white with a red collar.  She said, yes, a red harness.


Ward commented that there is a black lab that lives over at Crams.


Ken commented that most likely it was her dog and that he couldn’t imagine that there would be another black and white pit bull in the area wearing a red harness. 


Sally’s concern was; did someone physically see the pit bull?  Or, could it have been the same incident where our dog got attacked by something?  Could it be a fisher cat or something?  Sally stated she doesn’t take light of the situation, but she was surprised by it.  To her knowledge, the dog did not leave the property.  She was playing with the two year old.  He could have.  But, she was very conscience of it and she doesn’t let them run around the house unless she is right there. 


Ken asked what her intentions were as far as the dog is concerned for the future.  For the future, Sally talked to her daughter, and Amanda here and Sally said it sounds like the neighbors and everybody is fearful of the dog, and the dog by the way is very sweet.  We have two cats and he doesn’t even bother the cats. 


The Chair asked to get back to her intentions.  Sally said; let’s just find him another home, because obviously he’s labeled.  He’s a sweet dog, he’s never done anything like this, and he’s never been aggressive in any way.  Unless someone comes to the door, he is going to bark.  It will be a fearful bark, but the same with the white dog and the same with probably anybody’s dog.  That’s my intention.  We will find him another home because obviously the neighbors are concerned that he’s a vicious dog.


Tom asked what the timeline would be on that.  Sally said however long it would take.  She would probably put an ad in the paper or maybe post things around.  She didn’t know how long that would take.


Jeff McDonough was sworn in. 


Ron asked what Jeff’s opinion was of the pit bulls aggressiveness.  Jeff stated given the nature of pit bulls and their reputation, he really didn’t care to go in to see him.  He saw the dog barking inside. 


It was Jeff’s understanding that the dog was hit pretty hard with a shovel to get him to let go.  Jeff wondered if there were any injuries.  Sally said there were no signs of anything. Jeff asked if the dog had been taken to the vet to find out for rabies.  Sally had papers where the dog’s rabies vaccination was good until 2011.


Ken asked for a copy of the document where the dog was vaccinated for the record.


Muffy stated that they live in fear.  She purposely asked the Animal Control Officer what their rights were as an owner.  She was in fear all day Monday waiting for the vet; going back and forth from the house to the barn, as she’s the only one up on that hill.  What would she do if that dog came out of the woods?  That thought crossed her mind.  So, in asking that, what are our rights as a property owner, if that dog comes on our property?  We were told by him that we have permission to shoot to kill.  Muffy stated that if that dog gets loose and I ever see that dog on our property, she will kill him.  Because he is a dangerous dog.  There is no doubt in my mind.  Jessie is working in Norwich, VT, so I know he’s commuting, but he will step up and sign a statement that he witnessed this attack and this dog a week ago was standing outside his truck when he got home from work and threatened him to point where he got back in his truck.  He will testify to the point that at one point the dog came over and was jumping on the kennels of his dogs which are on his property, contained in a kennel.  He went out to shoo the dog away and the dog turned on him and chased him.  He will also attest to the fact that the dog has also chased his children.  This dog is a public safety menace. 


She wanted to make her point clear, if he comes on our property again, it’s a done deal.  And, she said she’s an animal lover and she doesn’t ever want to get to that point, but when I see what that thing did to my horse.  Ward said that they didn’t want to see that happen to a child.


The Chair read under the Town of Leicester Dog Ordinance, Section 2, Letter (I) “Vicious Dog”.  A dog which causes reasonable fear of bodily injury by attacking or threatening to attack any domestic animal or any person, except a person who is in the act of committing unlawful (criminal) trespass or other criminal act upon the private property or person of the owner or keeper of the dog.


The Chair stated that we do need Jessie’s statement.  We would wait a little longer. 


She stated that it is not the plan of the Selectboard to give  a definitive answer this evening, even if we had all of the information.  We will take it under advisement and make sure we acting legally to protect all parties, not just the Town. 


In the interim we can require that the dog be chained or be confined in some way  in this interim period so that there is no likelihood of recurrence of any other attack or people are not living in fear while they are waiting for a decision to be made. 


Ron stated that it should be an absolute requirement of the order that the dog be chained.  No rope or leash, but chained so there is no way he can get out.  If he got lose and bit a kid, the liability on you, Sally would be huge.  This is for your benefit too.


Muffy stated she feels this dog should be neutered immediately and behind a six foot chain link fence.  That’s how dangerous she feels this dog is.


Sally stated they have a chain lead and she showed it to Brian.


Muffy asked about her vet bills.  Tom stated that there should be something worked out between the two parties for restitution.  Sally asked to see the vet bills and the pictures.


Muffy said that she had paid the vet bill in full because that’s how they operate, with the understanding that she will require more vet services and there is more medication needed.  Muffy lost a day of work. 


Muffy commented to Sally that she didn’t ask her dog to come over and she’s not going to be stuck paying this bill.


Sally said she would pay the bill.  She didn’t know what this meeting was for.  Was it to determine whether she pay the bill? 


Tom stated that it’s to determine what the Town might do with the dog.  The Chair stated that there are actually several parts to this meeting;


·        To gather information to determine what happened

·        To determine how the vet bills and any other accessory costs will be handled

·        To determine what the response will be on the part of the Town as to what happens to the dog

It is within the power of the Selectboard to issue that the dog be muzzled, chained or confined or disposed of in a humane way.  This is in our ordinance and it’s also in the Vermont State Statutes.

It’s not an easy decision to be made. That is something that is in the realm of what the Selectboard can do.


Sally asked that the Selectboard please consider that she doesn’t have much money or much work.  Ron asked if she had house insurance because they might pay. 


Jessie called in and is willing to testify over the phone by speaker phone to give his testimony.  The Selectboard is agreeable to that; as long as Jessie comes in to sign a written document to certify that it’s his testimony.  He agreed. 


Jessie was sworn in.


The Chair asked Jessie to tell us what he saw and/or did.


Jessie stated that he came out of the house when the kids were screaming.  Bradley told him there was a dog attacking the horse.  He ran out on the back lawn and saw the dog chasing the horse across the pasture.  By the time he got to the pasture, the horse had kicked the dog.  The dog got back up and came after the horse and grabbed hold of it and he ran out at that time and screamed at the dog and kicked the dog.  It finally got away from the horse.  It would chase it and fall off, and chase it again.  When I ran out and kicked the dog again, it started running back toward the north.  When I chased it off, it ran right toward Sally’s house.  I never went all the way to Sally’s house, but it ran right there. 


Ron asked Jessie to give a description of the dog.


Jessie said it was a black pit bull with a red harness.


The Chair stated at one time they heard that he had to use a shovel to get the dog off the horse.  Was that correct?


Jessie stated that when he was running out toward the horse he had a shovel in his hand.  He actually had to kick the dog off the horse.  He never used the shovel on the dog.  He kicked the dog to get if off the horse.


The Chair asked if there have been any other incidents involving the dog with yourself or members of your family.


Jessie said yes, he and his father got out of his truck one day in his driveway and the dog was coming across the lawn coming over to us, and when he got out of the truck, he jumped out real quick out of the truck, and the dog starting snarling at him.  He didn’t come at him, but he snarled at him and he wouldn’t get off the lawn.  He kept telling him to move, but he kept barking and snarling at him.  He finally went into the house and he finally went away.  He wasn’t about to chase it off when it was coming after him, like that.  He has seen him on the lawn three or four other times.  He’s been jumping on the kennel bothering his dogs. 


The Chair asked if there have been any incident with the dog and your children.


Jessie said no, not yet, thank God.  The kids are out on the lawn all the time.  The kids come in to the house when they see the dog.  So, they are usually not bothered by it. 


The Chair asked Jessie to come in on Friday to sign a statement that what you gave us over the phone is indeed your statement.


Ron stated that until they make a decision, they need to make absolutely sure that that dog is chained and cannot get out.  This has to be absolute. 


Ken asked if it should be impounded.  Ron stated that he wasn’t sure the Humane Society would take it and the Town doesn’t have a regular impound.


The Chair also stated that we would have to have absolute assurance that the dog was chained and could not be allowed to be free under any circumstances even if Sally was outside. 


Sally stated she certainly couldn’t afford more fees with impounding and all. 


The Chair mentioned that she check her homeowner’s policy and that something be worked out in regard to the bills. 


Muffy stated that she wanted Sally to submit the homeowner’s policy information to the Town so she can access that information.  Muffy stated to Sally that she doesn’t want it to have to come to that.  She doesn’t want to have to sue her.  That is not where she wants to go but again, she didn’t ask for this.  It needs to be taken care of, one way or another.  She’s not after Sally for anything more than what she’s out.  She can’t ride her horse now for at least three weeks.  She has to contain her.  Now she has to buy hay.  She has to buy grain because she’s not allowed to put her down in the pasture.  She doesn’t even know if she will ever go in that pasture again because it was such a traumatic event.  But, that’s down the road.  There are other costs incurred because she has to contain her.  She is a pasture horse and that’s what she lives on. 


Sally stated that she has to be clear as to what Muffy is asking of her.


Muffy stated that she is asking Sally to take care of that vet bill, further vet bills, her loss of work, and the cost of the future medicines, the hay and the grain.  She has it itemized for what she needs for two weeks to feed her.  She has no problem giving Sally an itemized bill. 


Muffy’s next question is:


How will this be taken care of? And when will this be taken care of?  Because she has already had to fork that out.  It was totally unexpected and it hurts me financially.  She had to do, what she had to do.  The vet wouldn’t take care of the horse unless she paid it.


Ron stated that Sally needed to contact her insurance company first.


Ward asked about running things through the Town as a third party clearing house, deal direct.


The Chair commented that they prefer that it be handled party to party, but another alternative is that you charge us for whatever the costs are and then we take Sally to court.  That’s the other option.  It could get more expensive. 


Jeff asked if it would be proper to have a letter drawn up between the parties.  Have it notarized. 


Tom stated the issues of the actual dog.  The sooner its gotten rid of or whatever you do on your own, if you have the dog put down.  That might be the best way to go


Muffy stated there should be some clearly defined time frame that it is removed from the neighborhood


Ward stated that it would be appropriate that when the horse is able to return to the pasture again, probably a couple weeks, that the threat isn’t there anymore.  Whatever the timeline might be, it might give everyone a little more working time, but a reasonable framework.   


The Chair stated that the other thing that compounds it is the dog is not licensed.  According to the Town Ordinance and echoed by the Statutes, the fact that it’s unlicensed and the fact that it’s quite likely it’s the dog in question it says, where an issuing municipal official finds a dog to be in violation of the ordinance, the issuing municipal official may impound the dog at the Town pound or may issue to owner or keeper of the dog a municipal complaint.  In the event the dog is impounded, there are procedures for securing the release of the dog from the pound.  The owner or keeper of the dog shall not remove the dog until it is properly licensed and immunized.  Where a dog is claimed to be vicious, the owner or keeper shall not remove the dog except on such terms and conditions as ordered by the Board of Selectmen.  Owner or keeper is responsible for paying the pound keeper’s charges and $50.00 impoundment fee to the Town.


The Chair explained that they would have a decision in 48 hours.  Within that time, at the very least, the dog has to be chained and confined.  The sooner you can do something with the dog the better.




·        Heard Testimony

·        Gathered Information

·        Made recommendation that the dog be chained and confined; at least for the next 48 hours.

·        Two parties will try to work out the details, but if not, Muffy will be back to speak to the Town because then the Town would take on the liability

·        Recommendation to take care of the dog with new home or other alternative

·        Selectboard make written decision


Muffy wanted to commend the Selectboard for their prompt action to this.


Motion by Tom to go into deliberative session.  Second by Ken.  All in favor.  So approved.


Motion by Tom to come out of deliberative session.  Second by Ron.  All in favor.  So approved.


Motion by Tom to adjourn at 8:30 p.m.  Second by Ken.  All in favor.  So approved.



Respectfully submitted,



Sandra L. Trombley

Selectboard Secretary