Updated August 5
An Edgartown man went to his mother’s farm and took two dogs licensed to him that had been living there and euthanized at least one of them, according to police and Edgartown’s animal control officer (ACO). The dogs were Fergus, a yellow Lab, and Lola, a Bernese mountain dog mix. Fergus was euthanized on Friday, July 30 at Animal Health Care, according to a police report. Police didn’t know that on Friday, however, and were searching for Fergus because he was reported missing by Edgartown resident Ellen Harley. ACO Betsy Young Buck said her assistant Maddie LeCoq spent the weekend looking for the dog along with police.
“She searched all over the place for that dog,” Buck said.
At first Harley thought the dog was lost but then determined he was taken. Harley told police her son Richard “Greg” Worley came to her property and took Fergus with the aid of a worker. Harley alleged Worley “has threatened to kill Fergus” in the past, according to a report. Harley also alleged her son was “angry” and there may have been other contributing factors. She also alleged at the time “the dog was in danger because Greg was upset about some family matters.”
In a statement to The Times, Harley wrote that her son took Fergus when she and her husband weren’t present.
“Tragically, our disgruntled son came onto our property without our permission or knowledge and seized the dog from the dog sitter on Wednesday, July 28, while we were away for two nights, and convinced a local vet to put an end to Fergus’s life,” Harley wrote.
Harley also wrote that her son had “abandoned” Fergus.
“In June 2020, when Fergus was about 5 months old, our son abandoned care of Fergus and Lola, his other dog,” Harley wrote. “My husband and I willingly and lovingly accepted foster care for the dogs, providing food, shelter, and care at our farm in Edgartown.”
Police eventually spoke with Worley on August 2 and learned he had Fergus euthanized.
“He stated the dog attacked a woman a few months ago and sent her to the hospital,” a report states. “He stated that the dog was still exhibiting signs of aggression and that he did not trust the dog around his children or anyone else for that matter.”
Edgartown Police Det. Curtis Chandler asked Worley if he owned the dog. Worley, according to a report, said he did and had acquired it as a rescue through Leslie Hurd.
Worley couldn’t be reached for comment and an attempt to reach Animal Health Care was also unsuccessful.
Hurd told Det. Chandler that Worley’s actions were in violation of his adoption contract, according to a report.
At that point, Det. Chandler advised Hurd it appeared to be a civil matter.
“I don’t have any paperwork that indicates this dog belonged to anybody but Greg, which means it was legal to have [Fergus] euthanized,” Buck said.
Buck said Fergus was living on the farm “for at least a year.” The bite incident involving Fergus happened in May, Buck said, when a woman drove onto the Harley property because she saw a pile of wood chips and wanted to ask if she could take some.
Fergus wound up biting her and breaking the skin, Buck said.
“I quarantined Fergus for 10 days on their property,” Buck said.
Harley wrote that Fergus underwent specialized training and evaluation following the bite incident. “Fergus was apparently presented to the local vet as a vicious, mean dog,” Harley wrote. “The two dog trainers who evaluated and worked with the puppy felt the opposite. They believed after evaluation that Fergus was a fun loving, affable, typical Lab puppy.”
Despite the bite, the incident didn’t make Fergus a dangerous dog, Buck said.
“If you’re trespassing it doesn’t meet the standard for a dangerous dog,” Buck said.
Harley wrote that Fergus was full of “joy” and “loved to [lay] in the grass after dinner on his back with one of his favorite stuffed toys.” Despite being “a big guy,” Harley wrote that Fergus played “carefully” with other dogs and “loved rolling around in the grass with grandchildren.”
Harley wrote that Fergus “brought joy and laughter to all of us who had the privilege of knowing him.”
Buck said Worley also took Lola when he took Fergus. Lola, like Fergus was, is licensed to Worley, Buck said.
Asked if she knew if Lola was still alive, Buck said, “As far as I know, but I don’t know for sure.”
Updated to correct the name of the assistant ACO who searched for Fergus.