Islanders are displaying their support for the struggles of Brad Tucker and Liz Ragone, who lost their dog Ralf, a 3½ year old cane corso-Neapolitan mastiff mix, from a hit-and-run incident on Saturday.
“I’ve never been in more pain in my entire life,” Tucker told The Times. Tucker has had Ralf since he was an 8-week-old puppy.
Ralf went missing on Saturday around 7:30 pm. Tucker said there is a pen near the front yard and he is unsure how Ralf escaped. The dog was hit near Scotchman’s Lane.
Tucker said he does not know who struck Ralf, but someone who wished to remain anonymous told Tucker they saw Ralf get struck by a black SUV. The anonymous person told Tucker they had advised the SUV driver to contact the police immediately.
“Obviously, they didn’t,” Tucker said. Ralf was found near the pen he escaped from “still warm” before he died three hours after his disappearance. “It’s mind-blowing that he walked in the condition he was in, but he loved us dearly.”
Tucker said he has contacted the West Tisbury Police Department.
West Tisbury Police Chief Matt Mincone said his department is reviewing what they have, but it will be difficult because of the lack of cameras around Scotchman’s Lane. Mincone said he has talked to Tucker and has been trying to help him in regard to the case and to give him closure.
“I feel for him, like any pet owner in town,” Mincone, who is also a dog owner, said. “We’re looking into it as anything else.”
Mincone said a witness did see a driver and a passenger get out of their vehicle in the area after making “an erratic stop,” but did not provide much of a description. He said he is checking the call logs to see whether whoever did the hit-and-run contacted another police department.
Mincone underscored that the number of unknowns means his department needs to be diligent when it comes to looking into the case.
“I don’t want to minimize what happened,” Mincone said.
When asked, Mincone shared a law regarding a motor vehicle “striking, injuring or killing dogs or cats.” According to the law, the driver is required to report hitting the pet to the owner or a police officer. Failing to do so can result in a “fine of not more than $100 for a first offense or not more [than] 10 days in a house of corrections and a fine of $500 and the cost of medical expenses, not to exceed $2,500, imprisonment in a house of correction for not more than 6 months or both such fine and cost and imprisonment for a second and subsequent offense.” The owner can also take the individual to civil court.
“I want these people to know, if you made a simple phone call, Ralf would still be here,” Tucker said.
Members of the Islanders Talk Facebook group have been sharing their condolences.
“A dog is a family member. You have shattered an Island family. You have committed a hit and run, and your soul and conscience will not rest until you come to terms and own up,” Kim Hilliard posted in hopes whoever struck Ralf will come forward.
Ralf’s passing adds to another difficulty Tucker is going through, which is the West Tisbury planning board’s reluctance toward adding a curb cut for his farmstand. Tucker said he was told by the board last year that adding a curb cut would not be an issue, but has faced trouble when trying to get permission. Tucker said he has the necessary permits and licenses, but the board has denied the curb cut for what he calls “illegitimate” and “absurd” reasons. The curb cut issue was considered during a public hearing in August, which is scheduled to continue tonight. Tucker asked for Vineyarders’ support during the Monday evening public hearing on Islanders Talk.
“It has cost us our entire season,” Tucker said, adding that produce had to be thrown out and they sold only a fraction of what they needed to. “I don’t think they comprehend how difficult they made it for us.”
Tucker said the curb cut was necessary for the public to shop at the farmstand. He said a part of why the board has been reluctant about allowing the curb cut was because there was another entrance nearby. However, the existing farmstand entrance is difficult to see and there are segments that are boarded up, so “people think it’s closed.” Tucker said adding the extra cub cut can help with safety.
Tucker said he wanted to “revive” the property, which he said was built in 1890, by cleaning it up and operating a farmstand. He told The Times how much he cared for the West Tisbury community as an 11th-generation Islander.
“This is not the town I used to live in,” Tucker said. He said “it is absurd” that “something as simple as a damned entrance” is blocked when larger projects are allowed.
If the curb cut is denied, Tucker said he “will need to pack up and leave.” He told The Times he is not wealthy and is “already deeply in debt” from trying to open and operate a farmstand business. The loss of Ralf adds to his family’s difficult situation.
“I can’t do it anymore. I’m exhausted,” Tucker said.