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Pittsfield Animal Control Deems Velma Ave Dog Dangerous
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
06:13AM / Saturday, May 04, 2019
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The Animal Control Commission held the hearing on the incident Wednesday evening.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Amanda Desormeaux adopted a dog from New York City and is giving him a good home. But something in the dog's past is causing issues in the Velma Street neighborhood.
The Rottweiler, Bear, viciously attacked a neighbor's dog recently and now the Animal Control Commission is trying to find ways to protect the neighborhood. Bear will have to be muzzled when leaving the property and the fence in Desormeaux's yard will have to eliminate the view to public areas. 
"Our main goal here is to not let this happen again," Chairman John Reynolds said.
Last month, Desormeaux was going to bring Bear for a ride somewhere and he got excited. But she had to put some items in the car first and when she opened the gate to do so, with intent to come back and get him, he snuck out and headed toward the car. Then he caught a glimpse of Laurie Foley walking her Chesapeake Bay retriever, Abby.
Bear bolted across the street, grabbed Abby by the neck, and dragged her across the street. Foley went to break them up but Desormeaux quickly yelled at her not so she wouldn't get bit. Desormeaux then pulled Bear away.
"What this one came down to was an absolute accident on our part. We are taking care of their medical bills," said Ed Hughes, who lives with Desormeaux and represented her at a hearing on the matter Wednesday.
Desormeaux bought Abby a get-well toy and she and Hughes have been paying the Foley's vet bills.
However, Foley said if Desormeaux hadn't been there, her dog would have been killed. Her husband, Mike Foley, said he was told Bear had once been trained as a fighting dog and neighbors are fearful when they walk by because of his barking, growling, and jumping along the fence.
"This isn't a little attack. This isn't something that can just be laughed off as a little dog fight. This wasn't a dog fight at all. This dog was out to kill my dog," Mike Foley said.
Abby cowered in a corner of the house for about a week, Foley said, and has been going to vet nearly every other day to treat a large wound. Foley said the next time, things might be worse. He advocated for the dog to be removed from the neighborhood.
The incident wasn't the first one in Bear's recent history. In 2017, Desormeaux was walking Bear on a leash at Wild Acres when a pit bull escaped its leash and ran at Bear. It is still unclear which dog was the aggressor in that case, but it led to Bear getting in a fight and Desormeaux ultimately getting bit and having to miss work for several days.
Hughes said Bear wasn't to blame because he was on leash and the other dog approached him. He said Bear is good with friend's children when they come to visit, has no problem with people, and completely ignores the neighbor's dog. Their yard is completely fenced in and he doesn't leave the property unless leashed -- except for in this instance.
"If there wasn't another dog there, he would have went straight to the car and there wouldn't have been an issue. It was bad timing," Hughes said.
The 5- or 6-year-old dog is registered with the city and Hughes said they will be contacting a dog trainer to help address his behavior issues. He said they will no longer be using that gate to bring stuff to the car so he can't slip out again.
Reynolds, a veterinarian, said he isn't sure if Bear just has an aggressiveness with other dogs or if it is protectiveness. But, either way, the Animal Control Commission deemed Bear a dangerous dog.
"It sounds like dog aggression," Reynolds.
The fence in the yard is sufficient and the owners seem responsible, Reynolds said. So instead of demanding the dog be euthanized, the Animal Control Commission is requiring a series of other protective measures be taken.
"Had he had a basket muzzle he would not have been able to grab the other dog," Reynolds said.
Reynolds said he doesn't want to downplay the seriousness of the issue and warned Hughes that if something else happens, there could be more serious consequences.
"We take this seriously and with the type of cases we get presented, we often don't have owners acting responsible like Ed and Amanda and I do think they can control the situation," he said.
Animal control officers will now be tasked with keeping a bit of a closer eye on Bear and Hughes and Desormeaux are tasked with doing everything they can to prevent something like that from happening again.
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