Members Present – Thomas Hooker, Thomas “Hank” Pelkey, David Mills, Alicia Malay and W. Joseph Gagnon. Others Present: Mike Warfle, Stephane Goulet, David Soulia, Jr., Abbey Marzec-Gerrior, Jill Blanchard, Richard Gagnon, Stazy Warner, Paul Gagnon, Stephen Gagnon, Adam Gagnon, Town Manager John Haverstock, Recording Secretary Kelly Giard.
The Dog Hearing was called to order at 7:22 PM by Chair Malay.
Police Chief Warfle distributed the Police Report to attendees.
Chair Malay stated that this was a dog hearing – Marzec-Gerrior/Blanchard vs Gagnon.
Chair Malay read the Select Board procedures for the hearing and swore in the parties, representatives of the Police Department and the Town Manager.
Ms. Marzec-Gerrior submitted an email thread as evidence. The email stated that on March 10, 2021, she left her car at Pittsford Auto for service and chose to walk her puppy (lab) and when she walked by Richard Gagnon’s property, she stated that she saw a kid in the driveway playing and another kid on the porch. Ms. Marzec-Gerrior stated that the puppy was 7 months old and she was teaching him to walk on the white line along U S Route 7 and as they walked by the Gagnon property, she stated that she saw the kids out playing and a brown dog, that ran and appeared “locked in” on the puppy. The kids began hollering at the brown dog and Ms. Marzec-Gerrior stated that the puppy was not sure what to do and thought she was playing with him. Ms. Marzec-Gerrior stated that the brown dog ran toward her and tried to bite the stomach of the puppy, however, the brown dog had her hand and kept biting. Ms. Marzec-Gerrior stated that the kids saw her dog and tried pulling the brown dog and had to sit on the rear of the brown dog. Ms. Marzec-Gerrior stated that when the dog released her hand, she ran to Pittsford Auto. Ms. Marzec-Gerrior stated that her hand was numb and she could not move 3 of her 5 fingers. Ms. Marzec-Gerrior stated that there were no marks on either dog. Ms. Marzec-Gerrior stated that she is currently unable to work due to her injuries.
Jill Blanchard, a resident in the area submitted an email thread on behalf of Ms. Marzec-Gerrior. Ms. Blanchard stated that she did not have any questions for Ms. Marzec-Gerrior. Ms. Blanchard stated that when she was in the bank across the street that the employees were concerned about Ms. Marzec-Gerrior.
Stazy Warner stated that in the original complaint that was submitted by the Police Department that Ms. Marzec-Gerrior did not pick up the dog as she decided against it and that the complaint stated that Mr. Gagnon told Mr. Haverstock that Harley was off the property at the time of the incident. J. Haverstock stated that he possibly misunderstood. Ms. Warner would like the original complaint changed.
Ms. Warner inquired of Ms. Marzec-Gerrior who was in the driveway. Ms. Marzec-Gerrior stated that there was one kid in the driveway with orange hair and a skinny kid on the porch wearing a white tank top. Ms. Marzec-Gerrior stated that the first time by, there was one on the porch and one in the driveway and they could have been playing basketball, she is unsure.
Jill Blanchard stated that she filed her complaint and has previously filed complaints on this dog. Ms. Blanchard stated that she walks that way and meets a friend at the bank and they walk their dogs, however, they are afraid of walking in that area. Ms. Blanchard stated that she does not know if the Gagnon dog is a bad dog but that she should not be afraid to walk in the area due to the dog.
Richard Gagnon stated that his health was not good and he was not home at the time of this incident. Mr. Gagnon stated that his son Paul and grandson were home with his wife in the house.
Paul Gagnon stated that the dog was on 3 leashes hooked to the van when “the lady and her dog walked by” and that her dog messed on the lawn. Paul stated that the dog got 10’ – 12’ when he grabbed the tail and choked the dog and the dog never bit her or the puppy.
Ms. Marzec-Gerrior stated that she is not going to address anyone and that she was bit. Ms. Marzec-Gerrior stated that she called Chief Warfle and Vermont State Police via 9-1-1 and had a bloody hand when she walked into the Auto Center.
Ms. Blanchard stated that there were now “beware of dog” signs on the yard and that a similar situation has happened before and that this is a vicious dog that is not safe to be in the area.
D. Mills inquired how a dog that was on 3 leashes could get away. Paul Gagnon explained that there were 2 tie straps and a leash hooked to the van. The tie straps were hooked end to end to extend the length of the leash.
J. Haverstock inquired where exactly the incident took place. Ms. Marzec-Gerrior stated that she was on Route 7. J. Haverstock inquired if her dog was on the lawn when the incident happened. Mr. Gagnon stated that she was 12’on the grass. Paul Gagnon stated that their dog did not get to her or her dog. J. Gagnon inquired if this was the same dog as had a complaint filed previously. Mr. Gagnon stated that this was the same dog and that he was not able to work with him. Mr. Gagnon stated that his son Steven currently has the dog and he will be moving to their camp in Granville, NY. Mr. Gagnon stated that he said last year that he was taking the dog to NY for the summer.
Officer Goulet stated that he was the first to respond to 4152 Route 7 and Officer Soulia went to Rutland Regional Medical Center to interview the complainant. Chief Warfle followed up with Ms. Marzec-Gerrior the next day and took pictures of the injuries. Rich Bowman, health officer was contacted and was not involved since there was evidence of rabies vaccination. Officer Goulet stated that he photographed the dogs. Chief Warfle stated that he witnessed the puncture wound at the top of the right hand and palm and that there were dog marks on Ms. Marzec-Gerrior’s thigh, as well as bruising and scratches. Officer Goulet stated that he gathered information for Officer Soulia as he was at the Rutland Regional Medical Center. Officer Soulia stated to Officer Goulet that Ms. Marzec-Gerrior was distraught and asked Officer Goulet to go to the house to speak with the Gagnon’s. Richard Gagnon inquired how there were marks on her thighs. Paul and Mrs. Gagnon stated that they saw the dragging Ms. Marzec-Gerrior toward the Pittsford Auto. Paul Gagnon stated that Ms. Marzec-Gerrior got up and ran with the dog.
Ms. Marzec-Gerrior stated that Chief Warfle told her that he reached out to Mr. Gagnon, who admitted that this was the same dog as before. Mr. Gagnon offered to pay medical bills.
Ms. Blanchard stated that she is not attaching the pit bull breed. Ms. Blanchard stated that she always walks her dog on a leash and the issue is that she is not able to walk in the area safely. Ms. Blanchard is not asking that the dog be put down
Chief Warfle inquired if the dog was on a long leash or got loose. Mr. Gagnon stated that the dog broke the leash. Steven Gagnon presented the new chain that will be used for the dog. Steven Gagnon stated that he will be taking the dog as his father can not handle the dog. The dog will be muzzled and have the chain. Ms. Warner emailed a picture of the muzzle to J. Haverstock.
D. Mills inquired how long the Gagnon’s will be in Town with the dog as both a few weeks or a week have been mentioned. Richard Gagnon stated “a couple of weeks”.
Adam Gagnon inquired if Ms. Marzec-Gerrior was on the left toward the house how the right hand was bit. Ms. Marzec-Gerrior stated that her attorney has counseled her not to speak with the Gagnons.
Mr. Gagnon stated that he is willing to pay the medical bills and apologized, however, he was not home. Mr. Gagnon stated that he will have the dog out of Vermont “this weekend”.
Ms. Marzec-Gerrior stated that she was not looking to have the dog put down and that he needed an open field where he could run free and no one would be around. Ms. Blanchard stated that she has nothing against the pit bull breed, they need to run free.
Chair Malay closed the public session at 7:58 PM.
The Select Board entered into Deliberative Session at 8:00 PM.
The Select Board exited Deliberative Session at 8:40 PM.
Motion by T. Pelkey and seconded by T. Hooker to task the Town Manager with drafting a ruling to be circulated to Select Board members for approval and signatures. Motion passed unanimously 5 – 0.
Alicia Malay, Chair
David Mills, Vice Chair
Thomas Hooker, Selectman
W. Joseph Gagnon, Selectman
Thomas “Hank” Pelkey, Selectman