Updated June 12
A white German shepherd named Ranger who allegedly bit two women near the Black Dog Tavern in Vineyard Haven will have a dangerous dog hearing before the Tisbury select board. Ranger allegedly bit a woman on the buttocks on May 26, and another woman on the thigh on May 28. Ranger has recently been returned to his owner, Andrea Peraino, after a rabies quarantine, according to Tisbury Animal Control Officer (ACO) Kate Hoffman. Hoffman said the hearing has not yet been scheduled, but she has submitted the paperwork.
Peraino told The Times she was “absolutely filled with remorse” over Ranger’s behavior. “I can’t imagine being on vacation with your family and having this happen to you,” Peraino said. “I’m devastated over it. And honestly, there’s nothing I won’t do for those women.”
In the years she and her boyfriend, Brooke Douglas, have lived upstairs, Peraino said, nothing like this has ever happened. Peraino said Ranger escaped from a door on the second story of 20 Beach St. Extension, due to a faulty latch. She described that door as leading from a part of the building she and Douglas had only recently spent time in, as they’d been living in another portion of the second floor.
“We’ve completely sealed off that side of the house, and we have a builder coming to do a very secure three-way entry point,” she said. “We obviously take full responsibility, because it’s our fault that that entrance was not secure, and, quite frankly, we weren’t aware it wasn’t secure until this happened. So it’s very unfortunate,” she said.
Peraino said Ranger is 4½ years old, leash-trained, and a good dog but an anxious one.
“He has anxiety problems,” Peraino said. She added she believed Ranger was bolting to the beach a short distance away and bit the women in passing — that he was not specifically trying to get at them, but was scared by what he may have perceived as an impediment to him getting to the beach.
Ranger was under home quarantine on May 28, according to an ACO report, when he escaped the building and allegedly bit a woman. The victim stated, “she was parking her bike when the dog ran up and bit the back of her leg,” according to an ACO report. “The dog then ran away, with the owner chasing it.” The victim was treated at the scene by Tisbury EMS.
On May 26, Peraino told Hoffman, “Ranger broke out of the door and bit someone,” a report states. A woman suffered puncture wounds on her buttocks and leg, a report states.
Peraino was fined $25 for an unrestrained dog and $25 for an unlicensed dog, following the first attack. After the second attack, the dog was no longer allowed to be quarantined at home. The Tisbury ACO took custody of Ranger.
“We’re willing to go above and beyond,” Peraino said. “There’s no step I’m not willing to take — we’re not taking this lightly in any sense.”
Peraino made it clear the Beach Street Extension location isn’t ideal for Ranger, and she and Douglas are looking for a new place to live, but the current housing market hasn’t made it easy.
Peraino said Ranger is slated for a five-week behavior modification program that will start at the end of June: “Ranger is also going to a behavioral vet specialist at Tufts,” she said.
“Veterinary behaviorists are trained to address the relationships between an animal’s health, environment, experiences, and its behavior,” an American College of Veterinary Behaviorists webpage states. “They have extensive knowledge of psychotropic medications, their uses, potential side effects and interactions with other medications, and are licensed to prescribe them when indicated.”
Peraino said it’s possible Ranger could receive prescription medication for his anxiety. She said if all the steps she and Douglas plan to take aren’t successful and they feel Ranger has become a safety threat, they “would surrender him to a German shepherd rescue center.”
Peraino remains optimistic the interventions will make a difference, however, and said she will do whatever it takes to make things right. “There really isn’t anything I won’t do, including for those women,” she said.
Updated with additional details from Ranger’s owner.