Letter: Laws ineffective in dealing with dangerous dogs

Dangerous dogs go untouched by law

To the editor:

I was walking my dogs on my driveway in Stockbridge when brutally attacked by a neighbor. My wounds weren't serious, but one of my dogs was nearly killed.

The Stockbridge police were exceptionally attentive, professional and sympathetic, but were powerless to do anything about my neighbor. Even the revelation that he recently killed a pet cat made no difference; he remained free to walk the streets as if nothing happened, or might happen.

If my neighbor was human the consequences would have been much different. Because he was a canine, he was untouchable.

There's a process for dealing with dangerous dogs, but it's far from swift or efficient, especially if the owner pushes back. But the biggest potential obstacle is that each town, regardless of size, is responsible for forming a committee to adjudicate animal complaints, and for appointing wardens to enforce its decisions if needed. However, many towns, including Stockbridge, simply don't have such a committee and have zero authority to do anything if/when dogs act badly.

Meanwhile, the police eventually persuaded my neighbor's owner to relocate him to Great Barrington (at least that's what I was told). But that doesn't satisfy me; we've stealthily exported a grave problem to an unsuspecting neighborhood. The only acceptable remedies are to euthanize it, or permanently confine it somewhere that's isolated and secured.

In the absence of formal charges, there's no mandate or protocol for warning people they are in harm's way; a proverbial Catch-22 since it wasn't possible to press charges in Stockbridge. My only recourse is to write this letter and hope it's published and read.

If you live in Great Barrington, beware of a large pit-bull mix named "Banjo". He nearly killed my dog and he killed a cat. And make no mistake: in the eye's of a four-legged predator, a child is a small animal.

Jeff Herman Stockbridge


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