Neighbor says North Smithfield ACO followed the law with pit bull last year

Neighbor says North Smithfield ACO followed the law with pit bull last year

Attack victim Lady dies, Roxie may face euthanasia

NORTH SMITHFIELD - The recent deadly attack against a rescue greyhound by a neighbor's unleashed dog has exposed a local divide over how dog attacks should be handled, with one victim questioning the police decision to quarantine the animals.

Michael Calo spoke to The Breeze last week following an attack against his 82-year-old aunt Wanda Misiaszek's dog Lady by her neighbor's pet, and expressed disappointment that the aggressive animal, a mixed breed dog named Roxie, which he described as a pit bull, was allowed to stay in its home. Lady has since died from her injuries.

Calo said he was involved in a similar incident when his dog was attacked by a pit bull last year, and that the dog involved in that fight stayed in its home for three weeks because the town's Animal Control Officer was on vacation, and was then found to have neither a rabies vaccination or a license.

The keeper of the pit bull involved in that 2012 dog fight came to the defense of Animal Control Officer Scott Goodwin this week, saying that he came to her home immediately after the incident was reported, and received paperwork proving the dog had received a rabies vaccination.

"That's just not true," Calo's neighbor, Katherine Gunther, said of his description of the incident.

Gunther said she was temporarily housing the animal last July, just after she moved into her home on Crest Road. The dog escaped through a hole in the fence on the property and got into a fight with Phoebe, a greyhound belonging to Calo.

Gunther says Goodwin came to her home the same day the incident was reported, and she provided rabies paperwork.

"The animal control officer did his job," Gunther said.

Further, she says, the animal's pending departure was only delayed because Goodwin followed the quarantine procedure, a common option used to calm the situation, and monitor the animal while watching for any potential signs of rabies.

Records from the incident state that the dogfight took place on July 14, 2012. Goodwin was notified of the attack July 15, after Calo sent an email to Town Administrator Paulette Hamilton. He visited Gunther's home that day and obtained proof of a current vaccination.

"The dog was up to date with the rabies shot," Goodwin said.

Both he and Gunther also dispute Calo's claim that the dog was in the home for three weeks following the attack.

After a brief quarantine of around a week, they say the dog was returned to its home in New York. The animal did not have a license, they say, because it was only expected to visit Rhode Island briefly.

Under state law, it is at the animal control officer's discretion when, or if, an animal is taken out of a home after a bite. In the case of both Calo's incident and that of Misiaszek's last week, Goodwin says that the animals showed aggression toward other dogs, not humans.

"You don't take someone's family pet just because there was a dog fight," he said. "The animals were people friendly and dog aggressive."

Misiaszek, he said, was injured breaking up the fight between the animals.

Goodwin said he received a call from the officer who responded to the incident on Saint Paul Street last Friday, and that she verified the animal was not vicious.

"She said she was on the floor playing with the dog," Goodwin said. "There was no danger."

Goodwin put that dog - a pit bull mix that goes by the name of Roxie - on quarantine as well.

According to the state of Rhode Island Manual for Rabies Management and Protocols, an animal can be put on such confinement - where it cannot run free or have contact with any person or animal that does not reside at that location - only when it has a current rabies vaccination.

"If they don't have a rabies shot, I take them right away," Goodwin said.

Roxie's owners had only had the dog for a few weeks before the incident, and returned it to the North Kingston Animal Shelter on Sunday, but officials from that town brought the unwanted dog back to North Smithfield this week and put her in Goodwin's care.

"To me, she's as friendly as can be," said Goodwin. "It's not as easy as people think. Anyone who thinks this dog is vicious should be here playing with her, and then watch when I have to put her down."

The family that lost their pet, however, may disagree.

Lady passed due to heart failure Friday afternoon as a result of multiple complications suffered from the attack.

"I would like to thank the staff of the Ocean State Veterinary Specialists in their heroic attempt at saving her from her devastating injuries," Calo said in a statement.

Comments

Yes, Scott did visit us and the neighbors on Crest Ave the day after the attack - at the time he did not know if the dog was up-to-date on shots or had a license and gave the pit bull a rabies shot. He then left for a two week vacation and told us to call the police if there was an issue. Who was there to make sure that the dog was in fact being quarantined? The whole neighborhood was terrified that the dog would get out again, since the latch on the screen at Crest was broken. Scott told me he went over to serve papers and the dog let itself out and came after him and it had to be forced back into the house. I am in no way bashing Scott - he has helped us out on multiple occasions and is very good at what he does - he's also a nice guy. He deserves vacations, nights and weekends off. My issue was that I was not told the status of the pit bull until Scott returned two weeks later; and I believe that the dog was still there, as neighbors reported seeing it weeks later. Also, Katherine told us initially that they would pay for our dog’s injuries - we have only received a 1/3 of the cost of Phoebe's treatment. And there was no fight, I was walking my two dogs on-leash in the middle of the street and Phoebe was attacked by the unleashed pit bull; she had 2 very deep puncture wounds on her neck and near her spine that I will upload photos of to the Breeze. I did not take legal action against them since they had just began renting their home on Crest that summer and hoped it would be a one-off, and Phoebe did pull through. At first Katherine said it was her son’s dog, then it was her brothers and I was then told that it went to her husband's brother. Also, the mailman did in fact say that he stopped delivering mail there (I'm sure that is documented). He said the pit would bounce against the window trying to get at him. That does not sound like a dog that was not aggressive to humans. There needs to be a better process in place for weekends, vacations and nightly animal incidents so that people don't need to be afraid to leave their homes, as was the case in both my aunts and my neighbor’s cases.

ACO Goodwin has great things to say about the 'friendly' pit bull that killed Lady and knocked over and bit my 82 year old aunt, but nothing to say about the attack itself. I would like to hear his opinion about the greyhound who was killed and my aunts bite wounds, and about any fines due to having a dog off-leash that attacked a woman on her own property along with her gentle, defenseless dog who took most of the punishment to probably save her owner from being bitten more times or worse. Does he have any advice as to how this attack and any future attacks can be prevented?

As Mike Calo's friend and neighbor of 10 years, and an animal lover and person interested in conflict resolution and community mediation, I'd like to make a few comments on this situation. While I often hear people say that they have the "right" to own an animal and now there is apparently an ordinance that is being questioned as to whether it should be allowable to forbid certain kinds of breeds in certain cities (i.e. banning pit bulls in Pawtucket), a question that comes to my mind is what about the issue of responsibility? If someone owns or is housing a dog and that dog has proven to be vicious, whether to another dog or to a human, what about the rights of everyone else living in the area of being safe? What about the responsibility of pet owners and leaders to create and enforce an environment that is safe and where people are held accountable for the actions of their pets? As a person who loves animals, I can understand how hard it would be to see one's animal be removed from the home or put down for seriously or lethally attacking another animal, but what about the responsibility each citizen has to keep his/her animals from harming other people or animals? And if this does happen, then shouldn't the owner be required to pay for the damages (i.e., vet bills) associated with said attack? I have lived next door to greyhounds for 10 years now and they are one of the sweetest, most docile breed of dog. It is truly a shame that pet owners have to fear for their animals' lives and their own wellbeing because other pet owners do not take their responsibilities seriously. As a concerned neighbor and mother of a young child, I would like to see a greater level of responsibility on the part of owners of dogs, such as pit bulls and pit bull mixes, that are known to be vicious breeds. And I would like to see communities and states consider stricter laws on breeds that are known to be vicious. How many more pets and people need to be attacked and how many more deaths need occur before this issue is taken seriously?

I'm sorry Cynthia Roberts, but you're making WAAY too much sense for the people of Rhode Island! You must have moved here from someplace else. Around these parts, irreponsible people are not held accountable for their careless actions and victims are not given any consideration and are chastised for their incesssant complaining...even it is totally justified. Criminals' opinions matter while law-abiding citizens are ignored or made fun of. The only way to get around this is to know someone on the inside. No really...I wish I were kidding.

ACO Scott Goodwin's great things he had to say about the friendly "pit bull" that killed Lady were spot on, indeed. This dog is the most loving dog I have ever come across. She is dog aggressive, NOT human aggressive. She has an extensive, horrifying past filled with nothing but abuse. Yet, she wants nothing but love, from humans. Yes, this was a very tragic and unfortunate incident, and in no way do we make light of the loss your aunt has suffered. You see...I was there. And while your aunt did fall down, it wasn't because she was being "attacked", or "mauled". She was standing too close to a dog fight. Her arm was bitten because she tried to come between them. I was the one down on the ground, with the dog in bear hug, screaming in her face to stop. If any human was going to be mauled in that moment, it would have been me. She was clearly not after any human, she was after a dog. Your aunt was not on the ground "fighting for her life", as one of your articles stated. While we are sincerely sorry for the loss your aunt has suffered, you making a circus out of this situation, with your oh so many inaccurate statements, have seriously ruined any credibility you may have once had, as far as I am concerned. You have taken your aunt's misfortune, and used it for your own personal vendetta against a breed, and apparently Scott Goodwin, who not only did nothing wrong in this situation, but is a TRUE animal lover. Cynthia...we were not told when we adopted this dog that she had any issues with dogs. We had no idea until this incident. We had seen nothing but love from her. And apparently, your "friendly" neighbor of 10 years has not told that from the moment it happened, we told his aunt that we take full responsibility, and all would be payed for, and he is still not satisfied. " The family that lost their pet, however, may disagree." Two families have lost a pet here. Whether you recognize that or not, it is true.

Why was this newly adopted dog with it's 'horrifying past' not on a leash? I'm sure that you are aware that there is a leash law in NS, and my aunt asked you on numerous occasions to keep your dogs on leashes, but apparently you chose to ignore her pleas. This whole situation could have been avoided if you followed the law. I am curious as to whether Scott addressed this leash law issue that you chose not to obey?

You were told exactly how this happened, so why are you playing ignorant? And your aunt never said anything about leashes, but she did state that she didn't want the dogs near her when my other daughter's dogs had run up to her to greet her..tails wagging. But her fear was understood and the dogs quickly called away. They are trained dogs that listen on command. And whether or not Scott has addressed a leash law with me, well that is simply none of your business. I have no desire to join your circus, Michael. I won't be commenting anymore. Enough said.

Wendy, I take no satisfaction in this situation and have nothing against pit bulls or your family, only dangerous animals that are not properly restrained that cause harm, pain and suffering to others. I too am sorry and as I said earlier, I like Scott, as he has helped us out on several occasions. What I don't like is that there is no backup for him on nights, weekends and vacations. That is what this is about and must be changed.

All sarcasm aside, and as a dog owner myself, I AM RESPONSIBLE for the actions of my dog. WHY? Because she is a DOG! My dog is also "friendly to humans", but I don't have any insight to what she is thinking at any given moment. My dog also obeys on command...except if a squirrel happens by at any given moment. WHY? Again, because she is an animal, with animal instincts. I am a responsible dog owner, and a big part of that responsibility is to never have to say I'm sorry for my dog's bad behavior. It's my job (and the law) to keep her under control at all times.

If you're so stuck in the valley, then why don't you get out? Dogs get loose, and accidents happen, and you're ignorant if you think otherwise.

Yes Bob, accidents do happen, but people need to be held responsible. If you are negligent and cause a car accident that kills someone, you are ignorant if you think, 'What the heck, accidents happen'. Try telling that to the judge. An elderly woman was knocked doen and bitten and the love of her life was basically shredded before her eyes and suffered terribly for 8 days before dying. No biggie, right Bob. I bet I can guess what breed of dog you own.

See the article listed above. That is how home 'quarantine' can work out. If the animal needs to be quarantined, in many cases the owner was responsible for it by being irresponsible. Case and point in this issue.

Upon my recent post about rights and responsibilities, several friends and associates mentioned to me that although they agree with my thoughts on rights and responsibilities, they disagree with my thoughts on banning specific breeds. I decided I should become better educated on that topic and see whether my thinking was warranted and whether it was biased by emotions and anecdotes rather than reliable research. This post is to share information I learned that makes me rethink my position on banning specific breeds. According to a group of science-based and reputable organizations (CDC, ASPCA, veterinary advocacy groups, and so forth), I have a more informed position. It appears from the research and position statements of these established policy informers, that breed-specific bans do not work and are not a good use of public funds and energy. It is more effective to educate the public about responsible pet ownership. I stand corrected about my statement regarding banning "vicious" breeds. http://stopbsl.org/bsloverview/the-lack-of-professional-support/

You are a very wise woman Cynthia Roberts. As a matter of fact, I do have a Pit Bull right now. And I also have Golden Retriever. I've also owned many other breeds of dogs throughout my lifetime. Long story short, my two dogs are very well behaved, and as an educated dog owner, I know that my Pit Bull has a much better temperament than my Retriever. It really is a shame that animal abusers can really mess up a perfectly beautiful animal. What some people don't realize is that EVERY breed of dog can end up this way when given the same circumstances.