Woman accused of abusing dog at Pittsfield Common


PITTSFIELD — A Pittsfield woman is facing a charge of animal abuse after she was observed being forceful with her dog in the Common on Sunday, Pittsfield police said. 

Police responded to the Pittsfield Common at 9:30 a.m. for a report of animal abuse and issued Melinda Alston, 44, a summons for one count cruelty to animals.

"During subsequent interactions with Ms. Alston, the canine animal in question was observed and remains in apparent good health," Pittsfield Police Chief Michael Wynn wrote in the statement.

The incident was captured on video and posted on Pittsfield community Facebook groups, prompting outrage from users. Several commentators said they had notified police and tagged officers in the video. 

In a phone interview, Alston denied being abusive toward her dog, Sugarnova, a 4-year-old rescue. She claimed the video that has circulated on Facebook didn't capture the reality of what happened that morning.

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Before filming began Sugarnova had yelped when she removed a tick from her, which prompted a nearby woman to react and try to take the dog away her thinking she was being abused, Alston said. 

In the video, Alston can be seen hold the dog by its neck. She said the video was taken as she was trying to flee from a woman who was recording her and being aggressive. 

Sugarnova wasn't wearing a collar, she said."I have been getting threatening letters," she said, "They're calling me an animal beater. I've never hurt an animal a day in my life." 

Alston said she received the summons in the mail Thursday.

Haven Orecchio-Egresitz can be reached at horecchio@berkshireeagle.com, @HavenEagle on Twitter and 413-770-6977.


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