Saturday, July 28, 2012

Dog who attacked boy, 9, to be euthanized; fate of two others pending

MASSACHUSETTS - One of three dogs implicated in the June attack on a 9-year-old boy who had part of his scalp ripped off is scheduled to be euthanized next week.

The fate of the two other American Staffordshire terriers remains up in the air following a hearing on Friday in Central Berkshire District Court that ended with an agreement by the city to look at new information gathered by the pets' owners.

Lori Rohde, 42, of Pittsfield, tearfully told the court on Friday that she and her boyfriend, Adam Pollack, have agreed to have 3-year-old Diablo put down Tuesday.

"It's the responsible thing to do," she said in court.

According to police, the couple's three dogs attacked Perrin Petell on June 11 as he and his mother, Jessyca, entered a common hallway of a multi-family home at Ed ward and Malcolm avenues. Perrin was dragged down the front stairs and into the yard by the dogs, said police.

Rohde said she and Pollack were about to take the dogs for a walk when the door burst open and startled the dogs. They were leashed, but the males broke away.

Perrin suffered 35 tooth punctures and lost part of his scalp. He was treated at Berkshire Med ical Center and released.

"What happened that night will affect all of us for the rest of our lives," Rohde said Friday, calling the attack "unfortunate."

While police say all three of the couple's dogs were part of the attack, Rohde said that Diablo was responsible for the attack, while the other two -- 4-year-old Cleopatra and 8-month-old Zeus -- were not involved.

Cleopatra, she said, was still in the hall when the attack occurred and while Zeus was in the yard during the attack, it was Diablo who bit the boy.

Cleopatra has since given birth to a litter of puppies.

The dogs were current on their rabies shots and have never bitten anyone before, according to their owners.

Pittsfield Police Chief Michael J. Wynn declared the three dogs "vicious" on June 13 and ordered that all three be "restrained, removed or disposed of as necessary."

The dogs are currently being held at the Eleanor Sonsini Animal Shelter in Pittsfield.

On Friday, a hearing, brought forward by Rohde and Pollack, was held before Judge Rita S. Koenigs to determine whether the police chief's order against the other two dogs had been made "without proper cause" or "in bad faith."

This came after a clerk magistrate's hearing late last month in which the chief's order was upheld.

During Friday's hearing, Rohde presented to the court a dog behavior evaluation given to Cleopatra while at the shelter.

"Cleo passed with flying colors," she said.

According to Rohde, she has donated close to 250 hours of her time at the animal shelter since the incident.

Rohde also had letters from a dog behaviorist as well as from the shelter's head concerning the other two dogs.

Koenigs asked if the chief would consider looking at the new information gathered by Rohde, especially in the light of the agreement to euthanize Diablo. Wynn agreed.

After the city reviews the new information, the hearing will reconvene, the date of which had not been scheduled as of Friday.

(Berkshire Eagle - July 27, 2012)