Tisbury wrestles with enforcement issues in dog complaint

Tisbury animal control officer Laurie Clements and town administrator John Bugbee reported last week on enforcement issues raised in a dog complaint discussion at the Tisbury selectmen’s March 15 meeting.

In a phone conversation with The Times Monday, April 4, Ms. Clements said she had stepped up patrols. She also said she and Mr. Bugbee are looking for alternative ways to contact Sam Hayes, the owner of a pit bull named in the complaint, and to deliver a ticket to him for violation of the town’s leash law.

“Laurie did contact the court and was told to treat it as an unpaid ticket,” Mr. Bugbee told The Times in a telephone conversation last Monday. “The owner can either be served the ticket by a law enforcement official, or we will defer to the court on how to pursue this ticket under the law.”

Ms. Clements clarified remarks she made at the selectmen’s meeting, during the discussion of the pit bull’s offense. That discussion did not take place during a formal dangerous dog hearing, which Ms. Clements said at the time she did not think was necessary. She had said she was reluctant to go into Mr. Hayes’ yard to deliver a ticket. Following up, she explained that when she said she was reluctant to hand deliver the ticket to Mr. Hayes, it was not because she is afraid of the pit bull.

“I don’t like walking in anybody’s yard that has a dog.” Ms. Clements said. “As I do with any dog owner, I would want to call Mr. Hayes first, to make sure he has his dog under control before I show up. I have a healthy respect for pit bulls and dogs in general that are going to protect their owner and their property.”

During the dog complaint discussion at the selectmen’s meeting, Carroll Biesecker described an incident that occurred on September 6, 2010, when her leashed dog was attacked and injured in her driveway by a pit bull that ran from its yard across the street.

Ms. Biesecker told selectmen her dog’s injuries required surgery. She filed a report with the Tisbury Police and a formal complaint with the selectmen, which names Sam Hayes as the pit bull’s owner.

Ms. Biesecker said Mr. Hayes has not paid any vet bills or fines and that she is concerned about proper containment for the pit bull.

Ms. Clements told the selectmen she quarantined the pit bull for 10 days, after he attacked Ms. Biesecker’s dog. She told Mr. Hayes, who owns two pit bulls, to keep the dog involved in the incident on a leash attached to a run in his yard. She also mailed him a letter requesting that he pay Ms. Biesecker’s vet bills, make his fence higher, and put in a better gate.

Ms. Clements described her efforts to contact Mr. Hayes, which included by mail, phone and hang-tags left on his gate with notes requesting that he call her. She said she mailed him a $25 ticket for violation of the town’s leash law, but the postal service returned it twice as undeliverable. Certified mail went unclaimed.

Ms. Clements efforts stopped at the gate. “I don’t want to go out into an empty yard with the two pits, so unless you can parachute me through the chimney, I don’t know how to get a hold of him,” Ms. Clements told the selectmen.

She said she did not think the vicious dog hearing was warranted because the dog had no earlier history of aggressive incidents and had none since, and that the owner had restrained the dog as she had instructed.

Mr. Bugbee said the town’s only recourse was to pursue the original fine and then decide whether to follow-up in court. Selectman chairman Jeff Kristal suggested Ms. Clements step up enforcement with more frequent patrols.