That was the consensus of the Ludlow Board of Selectmen, which voted unanimously at a "dangerous dog" hearing Tuesday to order Saint's master to take immediate corrective steps.
The hearing included testimony from the dog's keeper and a victim who was bitten by the aggressive pit bull, who is now responsible for two Ludlow attacks and one in Springfield.
Previously, the pit bull lived with its owner Timothy Redmond in Springfield's Hungry Hill section. However, Redmond failed to show up for the Ludlow hearing despite being ordered to attend.
Selectmen voted 5-0 to declare Saint a "dangerous dog." The board ordered the dog's owner to either find an animal rescue facility that is willing to take Saint, or to implement immediate safety and security measures so the dog can continue living in Ludlow.
Saint has been living with Redmond's girlfriend, Lisa Goncalves, who owns a home at 130 Kirkland Ave. in Ludlow, where Saint allegedly attacked Gladys Gomez on Oct. 16. The attack occurred while the woman was visiting a friend who lives next door to Goncalves, according to authorities.
Gladys Gomez is shown here testifying before the Ludlow Board of Selectmen on Tuesday, Nov. 15, about being attacked by a pit bull while visiting a friend on Kirkwood Avenue on Oct. 16. Gomez sustained bite wounds to her hand and buttocks, according to Ludlow officials, who have ordered the dog's owners to turn the pet over to an animal rescue facility.
Gomez, who filed a formal complaint with the town, told selectmen Tuesday that the pit bull came running from Goncalves' yard and bit her on the hand and buttocks. "When he did that, my leg went completely numb," she testified under oath at the hearing. "He jumped up on me like he was going to attack my face."
Goncalves, who also testified under oath at the hearing, told selectmen that Saint serves as a guard dog and provides "emotional support" to her family. The single mother said her home has been burglarized twice, which is why Saint now stays with her and not with Redmond in Springfield.
Selectmen were unsympathetic, however, particularly after hearing from Gilles Turcotte, Ludlow's animal control officer.
In addition to the October incident involving Gomez, Saint was responsible for a past Springfield attack and a Ludlow attack on a 14-year-old girl, who suffered severe lacerations, Turcotte said. Saint was deemed dangerous by veterinarians in Springfield after the attack in that city, he said.
"This is the second incident that we've had about the dog biting people -- serious bites," Turcotte said, referring to the incidents in Ludlow. In each case, he said, Redmond would "hurry up and push the dog into the car and take off out of town, so when we would get there, the dog would be gone."
Saint was formerly registered in the City of Springfield, but the dog has never been licensed in Ludlow, according to Turcotte. Goncalves confirmed that Saint is not registered in either community at this time.
The attacks "should have never happened," she admitted, showing selectmen a copy of an estimate she received to fence in her yard to ensure Saint does not escape.
DOG ALREADY DECLARED VICIOUS IN SEPARATE JURISDICTION
"It's a couple of different incidents, as you've already stated, and you have the incident in Springfield, where the same dog has been declared dangerous," selectmen Chairman Brian M. Mannix said to Goncalves. "At that point, you should have looked into what the rules and regulations were."
Goncalves said she plans to fence in her yard and purchased a muzzle for Saint, reducing the risk of another biting incident.
"Nothing, to this point, has been done. We've had two serious incidents," Mannix said.
GONCALVES MINIMIZES TERROR OF BEING ATTACKED
"OK, but none of the bites required stitches," Goncalves said. "So, how big of a bite does it have to be for it to be dangerous? Is it just a nip? That I would like to clarify, also."
Turcotte said Saint is a large dog with a history of violence, and it is just a matter of time before someone gets hurt again.
"That dog, you've got to take into consideration, weighs 129 pounds. It's not a safe dog," Turcote said. "I'm not saying to put that dog down, but that dog should be ordered out of town. ... Three strikes and we're done here."
"I'm willing to take that chance," Goncalves said.
Selectmen, however, were not willing to gamble with citizens' safety. That led to a vote to transfer Saint's care from Goncalves and Redmond to a licensed animal rescue facility within two weeks of Tuesday's hearing.
"I'm not willing to take that chance," said William E. Rooney, the board's vice chairman and an attorney by trade.
"We have now two people -- one a resident of Ludlow, the other a visitor to the Town of Ludlow -- both of whom have been attacked by either your dog or your boyfriend's dog," Rooney said. "I'm not willing to take a third chance. I don't want the dog in the Town of Ludlow, to be honest with you."
Selectmen ordered Goncalves and Redmond to provide the board with proof of Saint's transfer to an animal rescue facility. If up to three such facilities reject the dog, she must also provide proof of the rejections.
If no one will take Saint, selectmen agreed to impose the following restrictions:
- The dog must be humanely restrained;
- securely confined indoors or securely confined outdoors in an enclosed, locked pen or dog-run area with walls and a secure roof;
- when outside the home, the dog must be humanely and securely muzzled and controlled by an appropriate chain or other tethering device that is no longer than 3 feet;
- and Saint's owner or keeper must provide proof of a minimum $100,000 insurance policy to guard against any claim, loss, damage or injury to people, property or other domestic animals.
The outdoor work must be completed within a month of Tuesday's hearing, and Saint must be registered with the Town of Ludlow by Friday, Nov. 18.
Even if Goncalves meets all of these conditions and manages to keep Saint at her Kirkwood Avenue home, Selectwoman Carmina D. Fernandes said she hopes Goncalves will consider the safety of her children and others.
"I would just say if you do end up keeping the dog ... you have kids," Fernandes said, sharing a story about her niece being bitten by her own dogs.
"She took all of the requirements that were asked of her, and they still bit her -- the owner who loved them," Fernandes said, referring to her niece. "So, for your kids, I would tell you to reconsider having this dog in your house."
(MassLive - November 29, 2016)