West Tisbury selectmen this week ordered the owners of a Wheaten terrier to restrain their dog following two incidents where the dog attacked chickens. The attacks took place at Richard and Ina Andre’s Cleveland Farm.
Mr. Andre was able to catch the dog both times before any killing occurred, assistant animal control officer Allen Healy told the selectmen at a hearing Wednesday. Jason and Darcy Neago, the owners of the terrier, said the dog had been let out by accident by a young child, and they had already taken steps to correct the situation, including building a fence and scheduling training for the dog, which is under a year old. They said they also plan to socialize the dog with chickens at a neighbor’s house.
“We understand and take full ownership for the issue and understand the situation,” Mrs. Neago said.
“Unfortunately, Mr. Andre has had a fair number of experiences,” selectman Richard Knabel said. Mr. Andre’s chickens were killed last year in another dog attack.
Mr. Healy said the Neagos have taken all of the steps he would have recommended.
“The only thing that worries me is that the dog is young and you’ve got 10 more years keeping the dog in your yard, it’s going to be a lot of work,” he said.
Ina Andre agreed.
“We got really lucky because the chickens were still locked up, but the second time the dog came over it was going over to the ducks and geese with the intent to harm them,” she said. “I appreciate what you guys are trying to do . . . but there will always be the chance that the dog comes back. Think about the consequences for the dog if that happens again.”
Mr. Healy said if it happens again he would recommend the dog be euthanized, adding that a new state rule prohibits the town from ordering a problem dog be relocated.
“Three strikes is a good policy,” he said. “It’s not something I take lightly, I know you love your dog.”
Selectman Jeffrey (Skipper) Manter underscored the seriousness of the matter.
“I stand up strongly for the farmers in this community,” he said. “They shouldn’t have to tolerate dogs trying to destroy those farms . . . my position has always been that one strike, you should go.”
The selectman ordered a permanent fence to be installed within 30 days, that a triple door system remain in place and that the dog undergo training.
“Good luck, we would really like you to succeed,” Mr. Knabel said.
“But also understand that consequences would follow; we’ve done it before and we’d do it again,” selectman Cynthia Mitchell added.
In other business, the town accepted a gift in the honor of the late Jonathan Revere, a longtime town resident and government watchdog who died earlier this year. A group of friends donated a sound-equipped lectern for the community room at the new town library.
“Jonathan was known for his passion for language, both written and spoken word,” friend Nancy Huntington said. “When four friends, Joanie Ames, Linda Atkinson and Dick Knabel and I wanted to memorialize Jonathan in some way, it was easy — a gift to the library in his name.”
The selectman also approved a preliminary design for a town flag. Rep. Tim Madden is asking towns in the district to submit flags to be hung at the state house in Boston. The flag will have the town seal on it.