Preston officials trying to avoid euthanizing dogs

Preston - Town officials and the owner of two dogs that recently attacked a neighbor's sheep are trying to find alternatives to euthanizing the dogs with provisions that they go to experienced handlers and never be allowed to return to Preston.

Preston Animal Control Officer Patti Daniels told the Board of Selectmen Thursday that she found an acceptable new home for a Brittany involved in the attack and is looking for a similar arrangement for the Rottweiler, which is still in custody at the Preston dog pound.

Daniels has issued a "disposal order" on the Rottweiler, and owner Adam Collins has appealed the order to the state animal control officer. But with the state's backlog, a hearing might not be scheduled for another six to eight months.

The two dogs have a history of roaming and were not licensed, Daniels told the selectmen. She had given Collins verbal and written warnings to license the dogs, to no avail. After the sheep attack, in which the sheep were badly injured, Daniels learned that the dogs had previously attacked Collins' own pig, giving them a history of animal attacks.

She said the Brittany also was aggressive to her when she arrived after the sheep attack.

The Brittany since has been placed with a reputable breeder in North Stonington with orders that it be kept secured and not be allowed to return to Preston.

Collins proposed a similar solution for the Rottweiler - that it be placed with a breeder in Taftville. But Daniels said she was not familiar with the proposed location and first would have to contact Norwich Animal Control Officer Michele Kellough for information on whether there have been problems with the Taftville facility, and whether the dogs there are licensed.

The selectmen raised several questions regarding the town's liability if the dogs did return to town or caused damage elsewhere. First Selectman Robert Congdon said he would prefer to find a solution that avoided destroying the dogs for what he said was the owner's failings.

"We have to be very careful, because the two dogs attacked animals multiple times," Congdon said. "It is not the dogs' fault. It's the owner's fault. Once they've done it, (it's) awful hard to break them of doing it again."

Collins proposed sending the Rottweiler to a family member in South Carolina, but Daniels rejected that proposal. She preferred finding a solution in which the Collins family no longer had ties to the dog that could bring it back to Preston.

If the Taftville proposal is not suitable, and the town needs to go ahead with a hearing on the euthanasia order, Congdon would contact the state animal control officer to expedite a hearing on Collins' appeal.

"Keeping the dog in the pound for eight months does no good," Congdon said.

c.bessette@theday.com

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