The fate of three mixed-breed rescue dogs at 33 Myrtle St. rested in the hands of the assistant Town Manager after a dog hearing Monday evening at Town Hall.
During the hearing it was determined that one of three dogs owned by Jeff Clemens, 33 Myrtle St., was at issue, a two-year-old mixed breed named Cora.
Assistant Town Manager David Rodrigues determined Wednesday afternoon that Cora “is a dangerous dog by reason that without justification Cora attacked a person or domestic animal causing physical injury.” Furthermore, the Cora “behaved in a manner that a reasonable person believes poses an unjustified imminent threat of physical injury to a person or to a domestic animal.”
It was further stipulated that the owner also has to have no less than $100,000 policy for insurance claims.
As punishment, Cora is to be confined to the owner’s premises either indoors or outdoors. When taken out, Cora is to be muzzled and restrained with a chain or other tethering device with tensile strength of 300 pounds.
During the hearing the Clemens family, owners of three dogs that include Cora, 2 years-old, Remi, 6 years-old and Europa, 11 years-old listened as alleged victims of their dogs testified.
On at least three occasions, Cora was being walked and somehow got out of her leash. Another time the dog was simply let out by a child in the home.
Police Chief Terrance Delehanty and his wife Marcy encountered the Clemens’ dog while out on a walk May 17 with their own dog.
“All three dogs resemble a pit bull-style animal although I am not sure of the actual breed of the animal. The two kids walking the dog were about 18 and the dog became very aggressive when we approached them. So we crossed the street. The dog was not able to be contained on its leach, got off the leash and came after my dog. I tried to get in the middle of the two dogs. My dog eventually got off her leash and ran down the street,” Delehanty testified. “The other dog pursued her biting her neck. I eventually picked my dog up. A police cruiser happened to go by and I told them what had just happened and asked for animal control to follow up. There were no injuries to my dog. It was a very traumatic experience. Something certainly needs to be done.”
Delehanty normally would be the dog hearing officer, but he recused himself so he could testify. Instead Assistant Town Manager David Rodrigues and Town Attorney Jeffrey Blake of KP Law ran the hearing and told everyone a determination would be given in 48 hours.
“We’re calling this hearing after receiving complaints regarding a ‘nuisance’ or ‘dangerous’ dog,” Rodrigues said.
Animal Control Officer Mark VanBuskirk said the latest incident with Cora involved biting a MinPin and causing puncture wounds. When presented a vet bill of $1,400, Jeff Clemens did pay the entire amount. The dog also allegedly bit a man, but Clemens said it happened while separating the dogs and the man’s hand went into the dog’s mouth.
The man, John O’Gorman of 44 Mrytle St., said he went out and saw Cora being walked by one of the teenagers in the home. O’Gorman stayed in the driveway until the dog passed. The teen lost control of the dog.
“I had to open the dog’s mouth to release my dog,” O’Gorman said, explaining how he go bit.
O’Gorman did find a hand written note from Clemens on his door later saying he was sorry and would pay for the do’gs injuries.
The dates of the recorded incidences are May 27, 2018; Dec. 1, 2018 and May 17, 2019.
“The dog in question has been attacking dogs three separate times, twice slipping out of the leash and the third incident caught on tape of the dog charging down the driveway,’ VanBuskirk said.
Neighbors are terrified of the dogs, often checking the driveway and the area to see if the dogs were around. One woman said she had walked her dog down the street for years and now cannot. Another lady was a dog walker and cringed when she took her client’s dog out.
“I run quickly in and get the dog out quickly. I’ve doing this for 12 years,” said Heidi Julian. “These are powerful dogs, I believe. They’re not behind the fence and they’re not on leashes. They’re threatening to other animals and people.”
“We’ve had numerous calls from barking complaints, and a complaint that the dogs were getting out,” VanBuskirk said, two or three of these calls were prior to the incidents.
A home surveillance video going around Facebook shows a woman walking a dog on the sidewalk when all of a suddenly a loose dog flies down the driveway and goes after the woman’s dog. You do see an adult coming out of the house and trying to grab what was identified as Cora.
Clemens choked back emotion as he talk about his dogs during his testimony. “I’m not denying my dog bit his, but he put his hand in my dog’s mouth,” Clemens said. “The other incident… my dog is very protective, my daughter was walking her when someone approached. Myself and my whole family feel terrible about what has happened.”
Since the incidences the dog owner has invested in harnesses for better control and muzzles for them, Clemens said, adding there is a 6-foot fence around his yard. In his home he also has four cats and two ferrets.
“My sons were the one in each incident walking them,” Clemens said.
Jeffrey Clemens Jr. also testified about his dog getting loose and when the whole collar came off.
“She’s not violent,” the teen said of his dog.