Pit bull declared 'vicious' after Manville attack
Pit bull declared 'vicious' after Manville attack
LINCOLN - The pit bull responsible for the death of another dog last month in Manville was unanimously deemed "vicious" by animal and town officials at a hearing on Tuesday, and must either live entirely under lock and key for the rest of his life or be euthanized.
According to reports and testimony, Tank, the 13-month-old, 93-pound pit bull owned by Bouvier Avenue resident Simon Moussa, attacked 55-year-old Luz Molina on Aug. 22, in the Enrico Caruso Club parking lot on Vose Street after getting loose from his yard.
He killed one of Molina's dogs, injured another, and sent Molina to the hospital with bite marks and scrapes, causing her to miss five days of work.
Molina cried during her testimony at the hearing at Town Hall, saying she would rather have lost a finger than her 7-year-old Yorkshire Terrier, Tyson, because at least that would heal.
"That was the most horrifying time of my life," she said, "to hear my baby screaming and then he couldn't scream anymore because he was dead."
A framed photograph of Tyson and Poochie, the Bichon-Poodle injured in the attack, was displayed next to officials throughout the hour-long hearing.
Lincoln Police Capt. Philip Gould, Smithfield Animal Control Officer Tom Taylor and Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Agent Joe Warzycha decided that Moussa, 25, must abide by the following regulations in order to keep Tank:
* Keep the dog in a secure six-sided enclosure on the property at any time he is not secure inside the house, except for visits to the veterinarian. The kennel, which must have a top and bottom secured by locks, can be any size.
Moussa confirmed at the hearing that this means the dog can no longer take walks, and if he moves away to school, the dog must stay on the Lincoln property with his parents, who live there.
* Notify both cities or towns in the case of a permanent move.
* Obtain vicious dog insurance, which Warzycha said usually carries a minimum $100,000 liability, and costs approximately $500 per year. The Town of Lincoln must be listed on the policy, which must be renewed every 12 months.
* Have the dog tattooed or inserted with a microchip.
* Confirm that Tank has been neutered.
* Place a sign on the property, visible from the street, warning of a vicious dog. A generic "Beware of dog" sign is not acceptable, Warzycha said. Moussa explained that his house is entirely hidden from the street, so the sign would have to be placed at the base of the driveway.
* Notify the police if the dog gets loose.
* Do not give away or sell Tank.
Molina said she had never seen Tank loose before.
Her husband, Raymond Dupont, however, testified that he had been involved in an altercation with Tank in May that was never reported to police in which he put himself between his dogs and Tank, stepping on Tank's foot to keep him away until Moussa showed up to take him.
Gould also talked about an incident on May 15, when an 18-year-old woman was bitten by a loose Tank while she was walking her dog, and treated at an urgent care center in Cumberland.
If the dog gets loose again, Moussa could face fines and misdemeanor charges.
"I know this sounds like a lot, but there was a loss of life here," said Warzycha. "I understand it's not a great life for a dog."
Moussa's only other option is to euthanize Tank, officials said.
Warzycha explained that they decided not to vote for euthanasia, which requires unanimous approval, because Tank had ample opportunity to hurt people but instead seemed focused more on other dogs.
After the hearing, a teary-eyed Moussa, who officials called "relatively responsible," said he has "a lot of thinking to do."
Prior to the sentencing when he was told he must remain Tank's owner, he told officials he was considering giving the dog away to a man who raises pit bulls because of the impact the incident has had on his parents.
Moussa said because he works up to 19-hour shifts as owner and manager at Manville Palace Pizza, his family has been responsible for Tank at times, and has carelessly left gates or doors open. His parents' beagle has also gotten out on occasion, Moussa said, even though the half-acre yard is enclosed with a six-foot-tall chain link fence.
Moussa also told Molina he would pay for any medical costs, which she said totaled $150 for an emergency room visit and $7 for antibiotics, with the rest covered by insurance.
"I sincerely apologize. I hope your other dog is alright," he said.
Molina and her husband sat with attorney John Manni on one side of the Town Hall chambers during the hearing.
Moussa sat on the other side next to Lincoln Animal Control officer Louann Noreau, who did not speak during the hearing but told The Breeze afterwards that while it is "very unfortunate that the little doggy died," she wished she could have brought Tank in to show that he is "submissive" and a "big baby."
Town Administrator T. Joseph Almond was also in attendance.
Molina gave an emotional testimony as she recounted the incident on Aug. 22.
She told officials she was walking her two dogs on a leash, as either she or her husband did twice a day, when she said she turned the corner and was surprised by Tank, who lunged at her without provocation and grabbed Tyson, shaking him from side to side.
"I screamed for help, help," Molina said. "There was blood everywhere."
When Tyson was later declared dead, doctors said his ribs had been crushed, Molina said.
She was able to get Tyson away from Tank, at that point sustaining her own injuries, she said, before Tank then grabbed Poochie in his mouth and started shaking him from side to side.
"I don't know how Poochie's not dead," she said, from being shaken "side to side in such a ferocious way. I don't know how he didn't break the neck."
At that point, police reports confirm, Ronald Fealhaber ran over to help.
"The man got the dog and said, 'Run, run,'" Molina recalled, at which point she ran to a nearby house in her stocking feet - she had lost her shoes in the scuffle. Ashley Macksoud, who was driving by at the time, gave Molina and her two dogs a ride back to Molina's Railroad Street home.
From there, Molina drove her own car to Ocean State Veterinary Specialists in East Greenwich and Kent County Hospital.
After the hearing, Dupont said he believes officials "kind of forgot about the people who got hurt."
"People shouldn't be in fear to go around because of the responsibility of others," Molina said, thanking God that her grandson was not with her that day walking the dogs.