A former service dog owned by a Ouimet Lane couple was ordered restrained this week after reportedly attacking another dog being held by its owner during a March 9 encounter in the Cannon Forge neighborhood.
In addition to declaring “Bella” — a six-year-old Vizsla/Staffordshire mix owned by Charity and Scott Conner of 6 Ouimet Lane — a nuisance dog, selectmen ordered her muzzled and leashed whenever taken off the owners’ property and confined in a fenced area while on it.
Board members on Tuesday also included in their decision a recommendation from animal control officer Kaycee Bailey that Bella receive behavioral training from a professional handler.
According to Bailey, Bella had been leashed when Connor encountered “Diego,” a small Chihuahua owned by Molly Rosenwaser of 12 Rhodes Lane, along a Cannon Forge walking path on March 9.
Although the two dogs had passed each other on prior occasions, apparently without incident, Bailey said that Rosenwaser reached down and picked up Diego because the pathway had narrowed at that location.
Despite the precaution, Bailey testified that Bella jumped up, grabbed Diego by its hindquarters, wrenched him from Connor’s arms and began shaking him violently.
With difficulty, the two owners separated their dogs, after which Rosenwaser rushed Diego to Foxboro Animal Hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery for multiple bite wounds before being placed in temporary quarantine.
Bailey explained that Bella originally had been owned by Charity Connor’s father and was adopted upon his death. She added that Connor expressed remorse over the incident and paid for Diego’s medical treatment.
Bailey’s testimony, delivered remotely during a brief public hearing on the matter, was based on conversations with both owners, as well as information provided by the local veterinary clinic.
“I think we’ve worked through it,” Charity Connor said just before selectmen issued their final ruling. “Diego’s parents were very, very kind through the whole thing given the circumstances. We appreciate their cooperation.”
Rosenwaser agreed, saying she supported Bailey’s recommendations.
“Diego is really doing well now, so we’re also happy to report that,” she said.
After board members rendered a unanimous decision, Chairman Mark Elfman commended both owners for resolving an emotional situation.
“It’s very difficult for those of us who are dog owners to go through something like that, and very hard for us here on the board of selectmen to make hard decisions,” Elfman said.