Dog declared nuisance after attacking dog walked by Pittsfield councilor


RELATED VIDEO | Pittsfield Animal Control Commission weighs restrictions for dog that attacked another

PITTSFIELD -- A dog has been declared a nuisance and placed under restraints after it bit a dog being walked by a city councilor and his wife.

Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell said he and his wife, Esther Bolen, were walking their dogs on Pleasant Street on May 6 when a loose rottweiler bit one of their dogs and threatened two others.

Animal Control Officer Joseph Chague said he received the report of the incident around 11:21 a.m., and his investigation found that a golden retriever being walked by Bolen had a wound on its neck that drew blood.

The rottweiler, Chague said, is owned by Lynn Hartford of 13 Pleasant St., who attended the commission hearing Monday.

Hartford said the dog, a 3-year-old named Onyx, normally is kept inside and only taken out to walk on a leash. Apologizing to the other dog owners, Hartford said a side door was left open, but that since that time the family has made sure to keep the door locked at all times.

"I am very sorry this happened," she said.

The owner said the dog is not allowed outside except when leashed, but Chague said he was told by a neighbor at the scene of the incident that the rottweiler "gets out all the time."

However, he said he has no other reports of incidents or complaints about the dog.

Connell said his wife was walking an 11-year-old golden retriever about 15 to 20 feet in front of him, while he walked behind with two mini-poodles, all on leashes. The rottweiler was in the street and "went right for" the retriever, he said, and although Bolen tried to protect her dog, the rottweiler "reached around her and bit" the other dog.

The councilor said he then charged toward the attacking dog but was hampered by the two 15-pound "ankle biters" he held on leashes. He said the rottweiler backed off and Bolen was able to lead the retriever away, but Connell said the dog then charged toward the mini-poodles, until he picked up a rock and threatened it and the dog moved away.

The couple had often walked dogs through that area without incident in the past, Connell said, but haven't returned since the attack.

During the deliberation portion of the meeting, commissioners soon determined that a "dangerous" designation was not warranted for the rottweiler, but they did vote to designated it a "nuisance" animal.

The designations allow varying degrees of restraints to be implemented by animal control officials. In this case, commissioners decided to require continuation of the family policy of locking the dog in and only outside while on a leash.

In addition, they required an interior sign at the apartment warning that the door must be kept locked.

Commissioner Thomas Sakshaug suggested behavior training classes for the dog, to which Hartford agreed.

Chague said there is training available locally for obedience issues, aggression or other behaviors.

The commission voted to require the dog to also be muzzled while outside on a leash until behavior training can be successfully completed to the satisfaction of Chague.

Connell said after the hearing that he thought the required training was a good idea. He added that he felt it important to file a formal complaint to allow the process to take its course to prevent future incidents.

He added that while living in another city he had a 15-year-old dog he was walking mortally injured by a pitbull, which also bit him.

"I thank God an animal wasn't killed," he said of the recent attack.

To reach Jim Therrien:,

or (413) 496-6247

On Twitter: @BE_therrien


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