West Tisbury selectmen go back to the dogs

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West Tisbury selectmen voted 2-1 Wednesday to sign an agreement with the owners of two Akitas that will spare the dogs. The animals will be given to the Lexus Project rescue group, which specializes in saving dogs from euthanization.

Chairman Jeffrey (Skipper) Manter dissented. Mr. Manter has repeatedly argued that the harshest penalty be applied to the dogs that have repeatedly gotten loose and killed livestock that belongs to a neighbor.

Selectmen this week met with attorney Jonathon Rankin of Framingham in a conference call to review the final agreement with dog owners Taggart Young and Anna Bolotovsky. Mr. Rankin said the owners contacted the New York-based Lexus Project this past week about taking the dogs.

“The Lexus Project tries to save dogs facing the death sentence or who find themselves in a situation where they need help . . . they have agreed to take the dogs and evaluate them and see if they are able to be adopted by new owners,” he said.

One of the dogs, Zion, is now at Animal Health Care, a veterinary hospital that serves as the town pound. The other, Sensi, is in Newton with Ms. Bolotovsky’s mother.

The animals first got loose on November 10 and killed chickens and geese owned by Richard Andre, who lives on Old County Road.

After that incident selectmen ordered the owners to build a chain link enclosure for the dogs and pay Mr. Andre for his losses, which they did. But the dogs got loose again on December 14 and January 13 and again killed livestock owned by Mr. Andre.

Following the third incident, selectmen agreed to enter into a draft agreement to ban the two dogs from the Island forever. But selectmen reversed their decision after learning that Mr. Young had gone to Animal Health Care and tried to get Zion released from the pound, against their explicit orders.

After learning that Mr. Young tried to get the dog out of the pond under false pretenses, selectmen unanimously voted to euthanize both the dogs.

But, in another change of heart, selectmen last week instructed an attorney for Mr. Young and Ms. Bolotovsky to draft an agreement calling for them to give up ownership of both dogs and turn them over to a third party, preferably an animal rescue group.

The previous agreement, calling for the dogs to be banned from the Island, would have required Mr. Young and Ms. Bolotovsky to pay all the town’s legal fees. On Wednesday, town administrator Jen Rand estimated the town has incurred roughly $2,000 in attorney fees relating to the dog issue.

Mr. Rankin said the group can take possession of the two dogs sometime next week. He said his clients were willing to give up ownership of the dogs, but he asked that they personally deliver Sensi, now being held in Newton, to the Lexus Project, under the supervision of town officials.

“They don’t feel comfortable handing Sensi over while Zion is still being held,” Mr. Rankin said.

Mr. Rankin said his clients were willing to pay all boarding costs for Zion and also compensate Mr. Andre for his lost livestock. But, he said his clients have asked if the town could waive the legal fees accrued by the town relating to the dog issue.

“They don’t feel it is reasonable to pay attorney fees when at this point they are being forced to decide to give up their dogs or have them euthanized,” Mr. Rankin said. “I think at this point, Mr. Young and Ms. Bolotovsky are willing to give up their dogs to save them.”

Selectmen agreed to allow the owners to personally give Sensi over to the animal rescue group and also to waive the town legal fees.

Mr. Young and Ms. Bolotovsky attended Wednesday’s meeting, but made no comment, other than to say they would sign the agreement, which will go through a final review with attorneys for both sides before selectmen sign it.