Dog Ownership Brings Civic Responsibility
Neighbors Have A Right And Expectation Of Safety
By William Legault
Some of you may remember the days when dogs basically had the run off the street. Years ago leash laws, if they existed at all were basically disregarded by everybody. My Mother had a dog that would roam Derby Street at will. Sandy the dog was never a problem for us until the day that she came home after having been attacked by another dog, or maybe multiple dogs. We never figured out what happened, only that she had been bitten multiple times.
As a youngster I was attacked and bitten by a German Shepard. He was the house dog for the gas station and repair shop at the base of Ward and Peabody Streets. At night he was fenced in, but during the day he owned the corner, and one day he took a chunk out of my six year old behind to prove it. My military records note that scar as an identifying mark.
Years later, in my first year on the City Council I was again bitten. This time by a Rottweiler whose owner, a Peabody woman, failed to have on leash. She had two dogs that morning and instead of leashing the dogs before getting them out of the vehicle, she was going to let them run to the dog park unrestrained from the parking lot at Leslie’s Retreat Park. I attempted to assist a woman who was struggling with one of the dogs and ended up having my hand used as a chew toy. It looks two punches to the head of the dog to effect a release.
In each of the above cases was not it the fault of the animal. Owning a dog brings responsibility, not only to the animal, but to the general public. If you are not willing to train your dog and restrain your dog then you should not have a dog. Curbing and cleaning up after the animal also comes with that responsibility. The owner is responsible for the acts of his dog.
The incident on Ober Street this past Tuesday night, where two unrestrained pit bulls wreaked havoc on a woman who was out properly and legally exercising her dog is a clear example of the systems that we have in place failing across the board.
“Prince” and “Luna,” the two pit bulls in question have been an issue in that neighborhood for far too long. Neighbors have complained, warnings have been issued, and yet it looks like an actual attack is what it will take to get these dogs off of the street. The issue is further enraging because it appears that Prince had previously been determined to be “a dangerous dog” by the Animal Control Officer in Lynn. The owner had been ordered that the dog was to “be humanely restrained when outside the premises of the owner.” The order also dictated a muzzle and a tether within minimum strength of 300 pounds. It would appear that Salem, and the rest of the north shore communities were unaware of this ruling.
The fate of the dogs are in question here, which while necessary, is truly a shame. The real concern is with the owner, or owners. In Lynn the owner was identified as Sonya Aoude, but the Salem Police have arrested Henry Hernandez for assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon(reckless), to wit two pit bulls, on a person over the age of 60. Both Aoude and Hernandez share the same Summit Street residence.
Every once in a while, somebody chooses the wrong, or perhaps the right time to bring attention to themselves. That time has come for both Aoude and Hernandez. They need to be held directly, and unforgivingly accountable for the actions of their dogs.