Updated Aug. 5
Max, the Australian cattle dog allegedly abused by his owner, has been placed with another private caretaker. The move comes after an allegation Max’s owner snatched Max from the first private caretaker he was placed with. The dog was placed with a different caretaker Monday, according to Edgartown Animal Control Officer Betsy Young Buck.
“It was the judge’s decision,” Buck said. “I believe she is a friend of the owner.”
Buck said Max’s owner, Jay Michael Linhares, allegedly “stole” Max from the first caretaker, who had taken the dog under care following a judicial order. However, Buck said she found the idea of stealing the dog hard to sort. “It’s hard to accuse somebody of stealing his own property,” she said.
Court records indicate the Cape and Island District Attorney Michael O’Keefe’s office opted not to press for a warrant it sought for Linhares after he allegedly violated the conditions of his release on personal recognizance.
Linhares was arrested by Edgartown Police on July 25 on animal cruelty and disorderly conduct charges. He subsequently pleaded not guilty to those charges in Edgartown District Court.
Linhares’ release filing stipulated he was to have “no physical contact,” and was to “stay away from Max,” who was described as the alleged victim, court records show.
O’Keefe’s office filed its motion for a warrant on July 30, alleging “the defendant has failed to provide the dog (Max, the alleged victim) to a third party and not possess the dog,” court records show.
On August 3, O’Keefe’s office declined to go forward with the motion, court records indicate.
Permission was given by Edgartown District Court Judge Benjamin Barnes to release Max to a different person from before, once her information was provided to the probation office. Court records show that information was provided. Records showing whom Max was released to, and where she lives, have been sealed.
Buck declined to disclose the information.
“She may take the dog off-Island,” Buck said. “Her primary home is off-Island.” Both the court and the Edgartown Police reached out to the Edgartown animal control office on Monday to confirm the decision to hand over custody of Max to another third party, Buck said.
Asked if the dog could be fitted with a GPS collar, Buck said, “You can, I guess,” but she added that such a collar would be removable.
Tara Miltimore, spokesperson for O’Keefe’s office, didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.
Linhares’ attorney, Casey Jane Dobel, couldn’t be reached for comment.
The search for Max
Max went missing shortly after being placed, according to Edgartown Police Chief Bruce McNamee — specifically, he was found to be missing from the crate he was kept in outside the house he was staying at. Chief McNamee said Max’s medication and leash, which had been on top of the crate, were gone too.
“We went to great lengths to try to find him,” Chief McNamee said. This included a home search, coordination with the Massachusetts State Police about bridge cameras, coordination with the Rhode Island Marine Patrol, and legwork from several South Coast and Rhode Island police departments, McNamee said.
“Those police departments really beat the bushes to try to help us,” he said. The search didn’t find Max directly, but somewhat mysteriously, a call came in Monday that revealed his location. The caller revealed Max was in Edgartown, and could be collected at a particular address at 9:15 am, McNamee said. McNamee went on to say he personally joined Buck at that address and recovered Max. He declined to disclose the caller, where Max was, or who turned him over.
Buck said Max is not new to Edgartown Animal Control. “A month or two ago,” Buck said, she had to “quarantine [Max] for biting someone.” She said, “It occurred at a house where the dog owner was staying.” She declined to say where that house was. No complaint was filed, she said, therefore there was no nuisance hearing.
Buck said the dog appeared happy to see the unnamed second caretaker. “Apparently she’s done a lot of pet sitting for the owner [Linhares],” she said.
Buck said she would have preferred Max to have been left in the custody of the Edgartown Animal Control Office or the Animal Rescue League. However, she reiterated, she was told to hand over the dog to the third party.
“She came to the pound to pick up the dog,” she said.
Chief McNamee said he would have preferred the Animal Rescue League, but gathered Max’s bite history might have proved problematic.
Previously, the dog was put in the care of a third party by the courts. “She called me when she found the dog missing, and she also called the police,” Buck said.
Asked if she thought the owner might take the dog from the person who has it now, Buck said, “I think that’s a possibility, yeah.”
“I’ve met the person who has the dog currently,” McNamee said. “I hope the dog doesn’t disappear from her.”
Reporter Lucas Thors contributed to this story.