Edgartown investigates dog ‘attack’

Doyles say they had to kick the other dog to stop it.

Betsy Young Buck, Edgartown animal control officer, shown here waiting for her vaccine, has been asked by the select board to investigate a complaint of a dangerous dog. - Jeremy Driesen

The Edgartown select board is asking its animal control officer to investigate an incident involving a dog attack on Clevelandtown Road on Sunday, March 21.

During a meeting Monday, the select board referred the incident to the animal control officer, Betsy Young Buck, to do a report.

A letter to the board outlines the complaint made by Richard and Eva Doyle, who have been seasonal residents for 54 years. According to the letter, on that Sunday, the Doyles were walking their dogs when the dog being walked by Eva was charged at by either a German shepherd or a Belgian Malinois, the letter states. “The dog had its teeth showing, and clearly was in attack mode and was intending to attack,” the letter states. “The dog charged across the street to the opposite side of Clevelandtown Road (the sidewalk side) where we were, and began to attack the dog Eva was walking.”

In order to stop the attack, Richard Doyle intervened. “I continued to kick the dog until it finally released itself, even if only temporarily.”

The dog’s owner, who was not identified, ran out of his house.

“Fearing for my own safety, I yelled at him to get his dog before I killed it,” Doyle wrote. “Once able to secure his dog, I expressed to him that I wanted his name and phone number, which he obliged. His next-door neighbor … witnessed the entire attack as she was on the sidewalk in front of her house. She told Eva that ‘this isn’t the first time this had happened.’”

When he reported the incident later that day, Doyle wrote that the assistant animal control officer told him he would have to file a civil complaint against the dog’s owner. “I’ve never in my life filed a lawsuit against anyone … and that’s not the point of this letter,” he wrote.

The two-page letter went on to express Doyle’s fear that a young child could be seriously hurt by the dog.

Select board member Margaret Serpa wanted some assurance that the dog is under control.

“After reading the letter, I hope there is some restraint put on this [dog] so it’s not happening in the interim,” she said.

Young Buck, who was on the Zoom call, said that she has spoken with the dog’s owner.

In other business, the board unanimously approved its town meeting warrant with little discussion. The 85-article warrant will be considered by voters May 22. The warrant will include a name change to the select board, as well as an item to shift the tax collector’s position to an appointed rather than elected position. Town administrator James Hagerty said that’s the best practice for towns, given the complexities of town budgets these days. He said the position could save the town money by creating a merged collector and treasurer position. Voters will also decide whether to allow the VTA to move forward with a charging station on Church Street for its electric buses.

In a vote that select board member Michael Donaroma sat out, the board approved replacing a shade tree at 53 South Water St. Cammie Naylor of Donaroma’s, which is doing the tree swap for the property owner, told the board, “This zelkova looks like it’s almost dead. It didn’t leaf out last year. A severe lack of foliage in 2020. No new buds. There is some rot inside. We’d like to remove it and replace it with the same specimen.”

The board gave Donaroma’s until Sept. 30 to take down the tree and replace it.


  1. That is horrible bureaucratic double speak where common sense seems to have failed. To get in touch with animal control and have that for a response is not serving the public very well. I believe this animal control officer needs some training and will handle differently in the future.

  2. Yeah not sure if you have ever been attacked by a dog but it is not pleasant. If this is somewhat has occurred in the past then hopefully it is documented. The next time may be the last for this dog. Better get Ceasar Milab on the horn or get a reliable leash.

    To say the animal control officer needs training seems absurd to me. If the owner of the attacking dog can’t control their pet, then they should be liable for an I juries caused by that pet

    • The article stated “the assistant animal control officer told him he would have to file a civil complaint against the dog’s owner.” The correct response would have been let me have all the details and I will go and talk with the owner of the dog right away. Then if you want to make a formal complaint here is what you do. Yes this town employee needs better training.

  3. Why get to the point of injuries and liability for traumatic damages?
    Edgartown has needed a ordinance – with monetary penalties for off leash dogs for decades. I grew up close by to where this happened, and was constantly terrorized by several dogs walking to and from school. All of whom were not on leash. Animal control was aware that a young elementary child was in this form off constant danger and DID NOTHING!!!! Which apparently is what they still continue to do and doesn’t seem to matter who has the position. We don’t need training we need a bylaw in the town that says that animals must be leashed or fenced while on their owner’s property, and that failure to do so will result in significant monetary fines that escalate each time there is an additional offense.
    The dogs that terrorized me growing up included a pair of Doberman Pinschers.

    This has been an excusable and dangerous situation for too many decades.

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