Meeting Minutes : Select Board Dog Hearing

Town of Pittsford

Select Board Dog Hearing

January 7, 2015 



Thomas “Hank” Pelkey opened the meeting at 7:15 PM.


Select Board members present were: Thomas “Hank” Pelkey, Thomas Hooker, Dave Trombley, W. Joseph Gagnon, and Jane Cornell.  Also present were:  Erin Mansfield, Tom Browe, Cody Hesse, Mike Warfle, Sara Utley, Michael Quirk, John Wahlstrom, Dawn Wahlstrom and John Haverstock.


This meeting was recorded.


  1. Pelkey opened the hearing and explained the order of business for the hearing.

The rules for the hearing:  the Select Board will adjudicate the complaint; all comments must be directed to the Chair; a party must be recognized by the Chair before speaking; testimony is to be given under oath; every interested party will have an opportunity to question everyone who gives testimony; there are no other fixed rules of evidence-the Select Board may accept any evidence it believes will help it in its deliberations; the Select Board will deliberate in executive session; and the Board will issue Finds of Fact; Conclusions of Law; and Order regarding the dogs (if any) within one week of the hearing.


  1. Pelkey asks whoever in the audience is prepared to give testimony to raise their hands. T. Pelkey leads the swearing-in by asking them to reply “I do” after the following statement: “ I do swear or affirm that the testimony I provide to the Select Board in this matter before it will be true and complete to the best of my knowledge”. All present to give testimony replied “I do”.  (Those sworn in were:  Mike Warlfe, Cody Hesse, Sara Utley, Michael Quirk, John Wahlstrom and Dawn Wahlstrom)


  1. Pelkey asked for the complainants to state their names and their case.


Chairman Pelkey entered into evidence items labeled ‘A1’ –an e-mail from Ms. Utley.


Ms. Utley stated that she has lived in her home for 11 years and this all started with a Rotweiller that was running loose.  The past few years, a German shepherd has been going onto her property and “going to the bathroom”.  This has happened right in front of her and she has seen it in her front yard as well as her back yard.  Ms. Utley stated that the mess occurs in the back yard and the front walkway.  On the day after Christmas, there was “dog poop” on the bottom of a remote control car that her son was playing with in the yard.  Ms. Utley stated that she “is tired of it and wants it stopped”.  Ms. Utley stated that there are no other visible dogs in the neighborhood.  She stated that the dog is under good voice control when the owners are out with him.  However, her kids can not go out and play in the yard as they are afraid of the dog.

Michael stated that he has spoken politely with the owners.  He suggested the use of a leash and possibly an invisible fence.  There was no further evidence presented.


Mr. Wahlstrom stated that he has gone out on a few occasions to pick up a mess and stated that there have been times that the mess is not from a German shepherd-sized dog.   Mr. Wahlstrom stated that someone is usually out with the dog and the dog is under voice control.  He admitted that the dog is not always on a leash.  Mr. Wahlstrom stated that there is another, smaller German shepherd in the neighborhood.  Mr. Wahlstrom stated that the dog is never allowed “free roam”.

Mrs. Wahlstrom stated that there is a possibility of another dog roaming into the area from another street.  Mrs. Wahlstrom stated that if the dog is outside unattended, he is in his kennel.


Michael Quirk stated that, one night last fall, the Wahlstrom kids let the dog out and do not want to leash the dog.


  1. Pelkey inquired if the Animal Control Officer had any information for the Select Board. Mr. Hesse stated that he has been called to the area 3 times (twice in May) and spoke with Mrs. Wahlstrom and indicated that the dog had to remain under verbal control. The dog seemed friendly.  A call was received on December 26.  Mr. Hesse called John Wahlstrom, leaving a message.  Mr. Hesse spoke with Mr. Wahlstrom “a few days later” and he indicated that there was another dog in the area that looks like his.


Chief Warfle stated that the Police Department has received one complaint, possibly in October, and recommended installing a game camera to see what dog is coming onto the Utley property.


Mrs. Wahlstrom stated that she is willing to buy a game camera and set it up in the yard.  Mr. Wahlstrom stated that they have investigated an invisible fence and has tried a shock collar, which did not work.  He feels that the dog’s coat is too thick to feel the shock.


  1. Cornell inquired about the leash law. Chief Warfle stated that verbal control is part of the leash law.


  1. Haverstock inquired if Mrs. Wahlstrom admits that her dog has been on the Utley property, which Mrs. Wahlstrom admitted. Mrs. Wahlstrom was asked if the dog has ever made “mess” on the Utley property, to which Mrs. Wahlstrom stated that she does not know.


Mrs. Utley stated that “a summer or two ago” she was out in the yard and the dog “made a mess” and she flagged the Wahlstrom’s down and told them about the mess and requested them to pick it up.  Mrs. Utley stated concern for the safety of her children as they are afraid of the animal.


Michael stated that they are requesting that the dog be on a leash.


Mr. Wahlstrom stated that he will further investigate the possibility of an invisible fence.








In accordance with 1 VSA 312 (b)(5)(e) nothing in this section or in section 313 of this title shall be construed as extending to the judicial branch of the government of Vermont or of any part of the same or to the public service board; nor shall it extend to the deliberations of any public body in connection with a quasi-judicial proceeding, the Board unanimously agreed to go into closed Deliberative session at 7:41 PM.


The Board came out of closed deliberative session at 7:47 PM.


After review and consideration of the Town of Pittsford Animal Control Ordinance, the complaint, the Constable’s report, ad all of the testimony submitted, the Select Board issued the following:


Wahlstrom Dog Hearing


January 7, 2015





Following a duly noticed Dog Hearing on January 7, 2015, the Select Board finds as follows:


  • Respondents John and Dawn Wahlstrom admits that their dog, Diablo, has frequently left their property and roamed onto the property of neighbors, including the property of the complainants, Mike Quirk and Sara Utley.
  • The parties dispute whether said dog also has, on occasion, defecated on the Quirk/Utley property.


                                          CONCLUSIONS OF LAW


  • Based upon the uncontroverted testimony of complainants Mike Quirk and Sara Utley and the admissions of respondent s John and Dawn Wahlstrom, the Wahlstroms, as owners/keepers of Diablo, have repeatedly violated Section 5(a) of the Town’s Animal Ordinance, which prohibits an owner or keeper of a domestic pet from allowing it to “run at large off the premises of the owner or keeper….”





  • The Board hereby Orders that the Wahlstroms take all steps necessary to prevent Diablo from entering upon the Quirk/Utley property.  It will not serve as a defense in the future that Diablo is a “good dog”, is under voice control, or got loose inadvertently or by action of the Wahlstrom children.


  • In the event that the offending conduct should continue, the Wahlstroms will be subject to fines, as set forth in Section 16(a) of the Animal Ordinance.



Respectfully submitted:




Kelly Giard

Recording Secretary


Thomas“Hank” Pelkey, Chair


  1. Joseph Gagnon, Selectman



David Trombley, Selectman


______________________________                                                                                                Thomas Hooker, Selectman



Jane Cornell, Selectman