On Sept. 1, the Hinesburg Selectboard ordered a vicious dog euthanized.
Meeting as the animal control board, the selectboard unanimously voted to put down a dog that bit a 4-year-old boy and caused serious injuries.
The board had previously voted that the dog’s owner, Alicia Marshall of North Road in Hinesburg, needed to keep her dog Theo in a pen at all times.
“It appears that the owners were unable to do what was the minimal requirements,” board member Phil Pouech said.
There have been 12 incidents with this dog, board member Maggie Gordon said.
Police reports of the dog biting people and other dogs stretch back to at least 2016.
The most recent incident took place Aug. 18 on North Road. Theo jumped the fence of his pen and bit the right arm of the boy.
Anthony Seagroves told police he was walking with his children when the dog came running up. Seagroves said he attempted to get between his kids and the dog, but Theo got around him and bit his son, dragging him 5-10 feet. Seagroves got the dog in a headlock and punched him in the nose until he let go of his son.
The boy appeared at the hearing with a big bandage on his arm.
Gordon said that before this incident the dog was ordered to be muzzled whenever it was outside of its owner’s home. The dog’s pen area was supposed to have been beefed up with rollers at the top of the fences to keep it from jumping out.
“The confinement clearly hasn’t worked,” Gordon said.
One of the newer board members, Dennis Place, said he was surprised there have been so many incidents. He said if it was his dog, he would have handled it and the issue would never have come before the selectboard.
Pouech said the last time an issue with Theo came up, board members tried to be as kind and cautious as possible.
“Clearly, that wasn’t it. The owners of this dog have not taken responsibility. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s the dog’s fault. I think it’s the owners’ fault,” Pouech said, “But either way, I would make a motion that we take the actions necessary to have this dog disposed of.”
Selectboard member Mike Loner said it was unfortunate that the dog needed to be euthanized. He wondered if there is some way the board could legally prohibit the family from owning dogs.
The board agreed they didn’t think they had that authority.
Town manager Todd Odit said the next step is the town will have a certified letter delivered by a police officer to the family informing them that the dog needs to be put down.
In the best-case scenario, Odit said, the owners would voluntarily bring the dog to the town to be euthanized.
If that doesn’t happen, he will consult with an attorney to see how the town should deal with that situation.
This is not the first dog owned by the Marshalls that the selectboard has had to deal with.
“Previously, when these owners had a dog that was ordered put down, they voluntarily brought the dog to be put down,” Odit said.
Chair Merrily Lovell said the Marshalls previously paid for veterinary bills for a dog that Theo attacked. She said she assumed they would pay for the medical bills of the boy who was bitten.
Odit said that is probably a civil matter and not one the selectboard can decide.
The Marshalls’ next door neighbor, Allen Bickmore, said another of their dogs jumped a 6-foot-high fence and attacked him.
“I was wondering — even if the dog in question is going to be put down — the problem is the Marshals will keep getting more dogs, and either training them or abusing them to hurt other people,” Bickmore said.
When the Marshalls’ dogs attack, he said, “They stand back and allow the victim to take care of themselves.”