Edgartown selectmen ordered a family with a long history of complaints about the activities of its dogs to restrain the two animals for life, following a vicious dog and nuisance hearing on Monday. Confusingly, the dogs ordered restrained were not involved in the incident that gave rise to the hearing.
Dog owner Elliott Bennett must restrain a ten-year-old pug named Pumpkin and a four-year-old Labrador retriever named Bessy, whenever the animals are outside her house, and pay a $200 bond for each dog.
The order follows an incident on July 14, when a dog Ms. Bennet formerly owned, a German shepherd mix named Jem, killed a neighbor’s cat. Animal control officer Barbara Prada told selectmen the dog dug a hole under a fence to get loose and killed a cat owned by Jessica Burnham, who lives with her daughter down the block from the Bennetts.
Ms. Burnham said she received a call from her sister saying that she and her nephew saw the dog attack her cat while it was sleeping in their yard.
“This wasn’t the first time the dogs went after my cat,” Ms. Burnham told selectmen. “The Bennetts have proven over these many years that they are not responsible dog owners.”
“It was really, really unfortunate. I’m sorry,” Ms. Bennett said.
In her report, Ms. Prada said records show animal control officers have responded to 140 calls regarding the Bennett family’s dogs, dating back to 1997. “We’ve picked their dogs up many times,” she said. “I was actually pretty shocked at the number.”
“All totaled, I have impounded ‘Pumpkin’ 36 times, ‘Bessy’ 11 times, and ‘Jem’ five times,” Ms. Prada wrote in her report.
Following the death of the Burnham’s cat, the family gave Jem up for adoption. “Jem was rehomed through Animal Health Care and is now living in Provincetown and is happy,” Ms. Prada said. Pumpkin and Bessy are paying the price for Jem’s waywardness.
In other news, the town discussed valet parking in downtown.
Chief Tony Bettencourt said traffic was bumper to bumper up to upper Main Street due to the valet service.
“It’s become busy, it’s August, I expect that, but our officers have had to assist down there, and it’s become difficult,” he said. “We’re spending a considerable amount of time there, and we can’t have that.”
An attorney representing Vineyard Valet said the problems were due to illness and tardiness of employees. For the next two weekends, the valet service will schedule extra employees to work, he said.