Man takes dog from his mother, has it killed

Police, ACO, and community searched for a dog that was already dead.

Fergus was euthanized July 30. — Courtesy Ellen Harley


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.


  1. Where is all the information? Did you talk to the dog sitter? Why didn’t the dog sitter tell anyone where the dogs went for days? Why were people looking for a “lost” dog when it was known that he was taken? Why wasn’t anyone looking for the second dog when she was taken at the same time? Is anyone still looking for Lola and are they concerned about her well-being?Anybody else wondering? As the expression goes “That dog don’t hunt…..”

  2. Wow. I guess I’ll have to wait for the Lifetime movie to get the remaining details on this bizarre sage.

  3. So let’s see if I understand this correctly….you’re upset with your parents so you wait until they go away then go help yourself to the 2 dogs you “gave” to them a year prior because you were no longer interested in having them as your pets but you never contacted the rescue who got them from to take the animals back or to get the paperwork put in their names. That allows anyone to just take a dog to a vet and have him euthanized if their name is on the paperwork?? This vet should have to answer some serious questions…did he speak with the dogs trainers?..nope….did he speak with the ACO?…nope…did he ask for any paperwork stating the dog was dangerous…it sure doesn’t sound like it. I will never, ever, understand how a vet could euthanize a healthy pup based solely on one persons request to do so. Disgusting. Sickening. Inhumane. Unethical. The son AND the vet both need to find out what karma means. How can we find the other dog?

  4. Curious to know how many police man-hours are spent looking for dogs, in this instance, and other matters.

    Nice gig. You “professional dog WALKERS” are really missing the boat.

  5. Why would the Edgartown ‘Animal Health Care Veterinary Clinic’ agree to arbitrarily “euthanize” a 5 month old PUPPY?! There was NO PROOF of any aggressive behavior on the PUPPY’S part!!! Unconscionable.

    What is happening to the loving soul of this community — especially for our animals??!

    • Did you miss where he bit someone? I’m not saying that should be grounds to euthanize a dog but it was infected and he had been quarantined by Edgartown Animal Control

      • Did you pay attention to the he bit someone part? The person bitten was trespassing. The ACO did not deem Fergas dangerous as he was basically defending his territory. As for the quarantining, that is standard procedure for all animal biting incidents. Nowhere in the article does it state that Fergas was infected with anything.

      • That is a false equivalency, Albert. There is a vast difference between agricultural farming and pet guardianship. You might want to research our American animal cruelty laws, especially if you have any personal proximity to animals. These laws have been radically strengthened in the past few years as most people are recognizing that all animals deserve our love, support, and protection. Human beings are only one species on this planet. All are sacred.

  6. I agree there are holes in this story. That said, where is the discussion about why Animal Health Care euthanized this young dog? What was their procedure? Did they ask for documentation that the dog was aggressive? While Worley may have been the owner in the legal sense there are questions in my mind as to whether Animal Health Care acted in the best interests of such a young dog. Sadly it was the dog who paid the ultimate price.

  7. I’m guessing because the young man told the vet he was dangerous, I’m not excusing it, but that could be why.

    • I hear you. But I would hope a thoughtful vet would not euthanize on demand without some sort of record that the dog had problems. That’s my concern.

      • Animal owners have every right to have or to put their animals put down.
        Be they chickens, cows, pigs, cats, dogs or fish.
        The vet accepted the owners claim that the dog was dangerous.
        If the dog were to kill someone the vet could be held liable.
        There is no liability to carrying out the dog owners wishes.

          • I don’t know about your link Jesse–
            The bill you cite was passed because people delighted in watching young women in high heels stomp on baby chickens and crush them
            But I think Albert is wrong anyway–
            There are lots of laws against “animal cruelty” but I guess it depends on your definition of “cruelty”.
            I for one think it’s rather cruel to take the life of a happy puppy because you have some sort of family issue.
            Let me repeat that the guy who had this dog put down is “mentally ill” and in my opinion , a danger to society. We know that many sociopaths start off by killing animals before they go after people.

    • What is very wrong with this story is the humanizing of animals.
      The owner of this dog could have wacked up 30 chickens last week and no one would care.

      • Animals are living, sentient beings, Albert. In fact, the consciousness of the human race is significantly below that of all animals. There are millions of human beings worldwide who care tremendously about ANY animal that is arbitrarily harmed or murdered by uneducated, ignorant, narcissistic human beings. Wake up, Albert.

        • I agree,Jesse. Animals are a gift to this world. They do not belong to humans to do with as they please.

  8. Animal Control CAN initiate welfare checks on animals. This is CERTAINLY one horrible dog owner that deserves an unannounced visit. And, can Lucinda Hurd take back the remaining dog …. IF it’s STILL alive?

  9. There are quite a few things that are way out of whack here.
    You can take your young healthy dog into the vet and have it put down because of one nip a few months ago.
    That seems insane–
    But let me say that the vet that cares for my girlfriend’s dog would not do that. I have to think that most vets would not.
    I am very disappointed with Animal health care.
    The dog sitter did not report this immediately to the people who hired them.
    Did not report it to the police– nothing ???? Personally, I would sue the pants off of that dog sitter– the name should be published to protect other dogs.
    The town should charge this mentally ill “owner” for the cost of the search — and the sitter also.
    This is so wrong on so many levels..

    • I don’t know about suing. It does seem odd though right? People looked for the dog for days. When there were 2 dogs taken. No reward offered for the 2nd dog and no search for her. She is still not accounted for. It does not add up. No one asked the dog sitter where the dogs were? All very strange.

    • If you own the dog you have every right to put it down.
      It is the very same right that you have with your chicken.

      “The town should charge this mentally ill “owner” for the cost of the search — and the sitter also.? Do you have chapter and verse on the law pertaining to to the cost of searches.

      • Not if the signed contract with the rescue group required the owner return Fergus to the rescue if he decided he was unable/unwilling to care for Fergus. There were many options Worley had besides destroying this beautiful creature.
        The fact that his mother claimed he gave Fergus to her because he could not care for him and that he seized the dog unbeknownst to her while “disgruntled” and then snuffed the life out of this beautiful Lab strikes me as sociopathic behavior. Boycott Animal Health Care

      • Albert–
        many states charge for search and rescue.
        Not the same of course, but in this case there seems to be some deliberate disinformation, or at least an unwillingness to provide pertinent information to the authorities in a timely manner.
        The search could have been called off much earlier, had the sitter been forthright about where the dog went.
        Not enough facts here to determine the motive of the sitter to remain silent.. But silent they were, and that cost the taxpayer money.

  10. This is such an egregious, sociopathic thing to do. I really believe it should be highlighted and attended to way more than it has been. Essentially, this was a threatening, violent, menacing thing to do to a family member, similar to an act of domestic violence – and a helpless animal pays for it? Just unacceptable! That this person is freely wandering around this community feeling like he is entitled to make a move like that with no repercussions? That is why shelters are starting to take people’s pets because they know that victims are less likely to leave if they know they will leave animals in danger. To hurts someone’s animals is a deliberate act of emotional abuse. Yes, he originally owned the dog, but he signed and then violated a contract with the adoption agency, and he surrendered the dogs to his mother, who cared for them for a significant period of time. It is just so alarming that this precedent has been set that someone could do this without the true caretaker’s knowledge. Why is this not considered a criminal act?

  11. Yet another tragic dog story as a result of human ineptitude. We are responsible for the well being of our animal companions. Very sad.

  12. Killing a pet dog is in no way comparable to killing a chicken, unless of course you raised the dog to eat. And let’s not make this about ‘rights’. There are rights and there is what’s ‘right’.

  13. Putting a dog down even when they prove to be a danger to the public must be a difficult and heartbreaking decision. That said I fear that this action by this young man might indicate he is troubled and going thru some emotional trauma. I hope that his family will try to convince him to talk to someone to delve into what his real motivation was in putting this pup down. These trying times are difficult for even well balanced people but his actions seem to me to be a cry for help. Community services offers wonderful support for people and I hope his family will check in with them. All our best.

  14. I read the parent’s comments and they ring true the most.
    This Mr. Worley has issues and he did not control or own the dogs for quite some time.
    As many parents do they pick up their kids trash.
    In this case they adopted these animals.
    In my opinion, the facts in this case, as presented, and if true paint Greg Worley as devious and manipulative stain on the text of us.

    Tell us all how he’s not the problem.
    Check out that moms description of an affectionate lab.
    Now go hit the gym bag for 20 minutes.
    Greg Worley has zero on the ball.

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