BENNINGTON — The Select Board recently spared a dog following a vicious animal complaint hearing, but set strict conditions for keeping the pet leashed or under control.
The board's options included having the dog, named Kitsy, which is owned by Tracy Dumas of Bennington, euthanized.
The decision followed a Nov. 27 hearing involving the owner; the neighbors who filed the complaint, Jennifer and Hans Krijnen; other residents of the East Main Street-Burgess Road area; town Animal Control Officer Kimberly Krawczyk, Police Chief Paul Doucette and other officials.
According to board minutes of the hearing, several of those present offered testimony about the dog. Jennifer Krijnen said that she and her husband have experienced more than a half-dozen incidents involving the dog, adding that other neighbors have described similar problems.
She stated that she has "nightmares because of this dog."
Hans Krijnen told the board that Kitsy has attacked his dogs on his property, including one incident in which "our two dogs were on a leash in the car but not under control. We heard a dog bark, they jumped out, and that was the beginning of five minutes of chaos."
Dumas stated that "Kitsy has never bitten anyone; she is friendly, is with babies, and goes in stores," according to the minutes. "They [the Krijnens] have the vicious dogs," she said.
She added at one point that the dog "hasn't gotten out in a year and a half ... ."
Dustin Shamblin said he has known Dumas for 14 years and believes she has enough property for her dogs to roam. He stated, "There are always children at her house, so if these dogs are vicious, why don't they attack them?"
Resident David Sweet described an incident in which he saw Kitsy "bolt out of her pen, then saw the two Krijnen dogs come after her and she ran to go into her cage. She did not leave our property."
According to the minutes, Sweet said the Krijnen dogs "were hanging on to Kitsy's face and legs and he had all he could do to pry them off in his kitchen with no help from Hans."
Another member of the Krijnen family, Eva Krijnen, stated, according to the minutes, "This dog, and other dogs owned by this family, have chased her around the neighborhood. This dog tends to go after other animals, but will go after people if there are no animals around. This is on sidewalks and public land, not the property of the dogs' owners."
Doucette testified that there have been reports filed about the dogs running around the neighborhood.
Town Manager Stuart Hurd had forwarded complaints to the board, including three from 2017, and one each in 2018 and 2019.
Board members then asked questions of those who testified and discussed sections of the town's animal control ordinances relating to vicious dog complaints.
Chairman Donald Campbell read the passage explaining the process for calling for a vicious dog complaint hearing.
Following a closed deliberative session, the board reconvened in open session. Reading the board's determinations, Campbell said the dog is to be considered "a nuisance animal," but "is not an animal that should be euthanized."
In addition, restrictions on control of the dog will include that it must be walked on a leash no more than 8 feet long and wear a muzzle when off the owner's property, and must be attached to a chain and a sliding cable when on the owner's property.
Campbell added that the discussion caused the board to realize "we need to do some work to clarify exactly what our Nuisance Animal Ordinance means," according to the minutes.
Board member Bruce Lee-Clark was designated to take the lead in consideration of revisions to the ordinance.
Jim Therrien writes for New England Newspapers in Southern Vermont, including the Bennington Banner, Brattleboro Reformer and Manchester Journal. Twitter: @BB_therrien