Report sought as dog hearing continues in South Deerfield

By CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer

Published: 07-06-2023 12:38 PM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — After conferring with the owner and her attorney, the Selectboard opted to continue a dog hearing for the second time to get additional information from a behavioral consultant before setting conditions.

While the board continued the hearing, it came to a verbal agreement with Kate Clayton-Jones that she must confine Theo, her 7-year-old Great Pyrenees, to her property after he allegedly bit Deerfield Police Sgt. Jennifer Bartak and James King, a Patriot Properties employee conducting assessing work for the town.

“I think it’s really critical the dog stay confined on the property and we need to have that guarantee,” said Selectboard Chairwoman Carolyn Shores Ness. “That has to be a guarantee before we vote on continuing again.”

The Selectboard originally intended to set conditions on Theo on June 28 after designating him a dangerous dog, however, Clayton-Jones and her attorney, Jeremy Cohen, requested the hearing be continued to another date so they can submit a report from behavioral consultant to show that these two incidents were “an aberration for the dog.”

“It’s just to get a better sense where the dog is really at right now … to give everybody a sense of what might have happened and what the likelihood of it happening again is,” Cohen said. “In the meantime, to keep the community safe, I understand the request to keep the dog confined to the property. I think that’s reasonable.”

The public hearing was closed at the June 14 Selectboard meeting, but Town Counsel Matthew Provencher said it would be acceptable for the board to reopen the hearing to admit the behavioral consultant’s report because Cohen was not present at the previous meeting.

“I don’t think there’s a technical issue with that under the law,” Provencher said. “For the sake of transparency, I think it would make sense to (re-post), if you feel that’s appropriate.”

In the meantime, the board and Clayton-Jones agreed that Theo remain confined at the fenced-in property at her residence and she invited Animal Control Officer Calin Giurgiu to inspect the additional reinforced fencing she has put up.

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“If Theo needs to go to the vet or something like that, he would be on a leash in the town of Deerfield,” Clayton-Jones said. “I value safety just as much as everybody else.”

The hearing was continued to July 26, with the Selectboard requesting the behavioral consultant’s report by July 19.

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.

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