PITTSFIELD -- A vicious attack by three dogs has resulted in orders that the animals be closely confined and leashed and muzzled when taken off the property.
The city Animal Control Commission on Wednesday issued the orders after first determining following a public hearing that the dogs meet the legal definition of being dangerous.
The hearing focused on an incident in January in which the dogs -- owned by Robert and Tonya Reynolds of 111 Brown St. -- bolted from their property and attacked and severely injured a dog being walked on the street by its owner, Richard Razzano of 515 Tyler St.
According to Razzano, city Animal Control Officer Joseph Chague and others who spoke during the hearing, the three dogs pinned the other dog down and continually bit it -- and bit Razanno as well as he tried to intervene.
"When one started, they all started," Razzano told commissioners. "I pounded on them, trying to get them to stop. It was like a pack of lions or wolves ... My dog posed no threat to them."
Pausing at times from emotion, Razzano described the attack as "a surreal thing," saying he was screaming for the owners to come out to restrain the dogs, and at one point fell to the ground while trying to push his hands between the biting dogs and his dog, Casey.
"I was bit on the hands and face," he added, saying the facial bite came after one dog "looked right at me" and jumped up to bit him near an eye. Razzano said he felt "it could have been my throat."
He later went to the hospital emergency room and was treated, he said, receiving $965 in bills for the treatment. Razzano said the fact he was wearing heavy gloves likely saved him from worse injuries. The attack lasted about three minutes, he estimated.
His mother, Nan Razzano, of the same address, said the dog was taken to a veterinarian and required multiple stitches to close numerous wounds. That treatment cost $840, she said, adding that the vet at first thought there might be too little skin left in some areas to allow proper healing.
"He had to stitch her back together," the elder Razzano said. "It was almost like in a Frankenstein kind of manner."
The dog's tail was nearly bitten off, she said.
According to the testimony Wednesday, Tonya Reynolds came outside and brought the attacking dogs back into the Reynolds' house. She and others who spoke said her young daughter was attempting to take one dog out through the front door on a leash when the other two bolted through the door. They charged toward Razzano and his dog, while the third dog could not be controlled by the girl and joined the attack.
"It was an unfortunate situation," Tonya Reynolds said, adding that her dogs "are usually out back" in a fenced-in run area with a zipline and "have never attacked anyone before. There were no other incidents."
A neighbor who witnessed the attack and has lived on the street for six years said she did not know of any other incidents involving the three dogs.
Postal Service worker Eric Yarter, who has the mail route in that area, described the dogs as "very friendly" and said they were not among those mail carriers have noted as a potential problem on the route.
Chague confirmed that the testimony heard was an accurate description of the incident as far as his office and police could determine. The dogs and their ages, he said, are Caesar, 1, Cleo, 2, and Brutus, 9.
After voting unanimously to declare the dogs dangerous, the commission declined to consider euthanasia, with most members saying it was too difficult to determine which animal might have led the attack.
What had to be done was to ensure they are not allowed to run free, particularly together, said Commissioner Thomas Sakshaug. He said his fear is that a child could be walking a dog on the street and be attacked. Pack mentality seemed to be a strong factor in this case, he said.
The commission ordered fencing to confine the dogs to the rear of the property and an enclosure on the front porch that would act as a "safety lock" to prevent dogs from bolting from the home in a similar manner. Chague was asked to inspect the fencing when completed.
When off the property, muzzles and a leash will be required for the animals, they said.
They also required the Reynolds to seek insurance coverage for the animals, such as through homeowner's insurance.
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