Dogs in the middle of fight in Stonington

UPDATED. Stonington - An ongoing dispute between two borough women has led to the town and its animal control officer being sued after one of the women claimed the other baited her two pugs, Gustavo and Vinchenzo, into biting her in the foot.

The town then seized the 1-year-old male dogs and placed them in quarantine.

Mary Tucciarone has filed the lawsuit against Elizabeth Kean, who lives across from her on Water Street, as well as the state Department of Agriculture, which oversees the quarantine of dogs, and the town.

According to documents filed in New London Superior Court, until February 2011, Kean was living with Thomas Piacenza, who rented an apartment from Tucciarone above her Water Street shop, Tucci Design.

At that point they moved across the street but in September 2011 the relationship ended and Piacenza moved out. At that time, Tucciarone alleges that Kean became very vindictive toward her for no reason and began reporting her to police for violations that ranged from trying to run her off the road with her car to not picking up after her dogs, all of which she said are false. She charged that Kean, who she said has a violent temper, has been stalking her.

Kean, who was charged by Stonington police in December with third-degree assault and breach of peace, could not be reached to comment at her apartment. That case is pending in court.

In court documents, Tucciarone said Kean has verbally abused and threatened her and she now fears Kean will retaliate now that she has sued her. Tucciarone is seeking an order of relief from abuse from the court.

"I am frightened and in fear of my life every day," she wrote in the affidavit for the relief from abuse.

On April 8, Tucciarone said Kean began jumping, stomping, taunting and generally baiting Tucciarone's two dogs to bite her foot. She said Kean was unsuccessful but called police anyway to report the dogs had bit her. On that date Davis issued a written order that the dogs be quarantined at the dog pound for 14 days at Tucciarone's expense. Davis released the dogs to Tucciarone on Sunday.

Tucciarone said the quarantine violated her constitutional rights to due process and against unreasonable search and seizure.

The suits states Kean made false statements to police, caused her emotional distress, libeled and slandered her, "altered, forged or counterfeited" evidence of her injury and caused her dogs to be taken away.

Tucciarone is also seeking temporary injunctions to force the release of the dogs as well as the issuance of the relief from abuse. The appeal of a quarantine to the state agriculture department can take 9 to 12 months, according to her application for one of the injunctions. Kean has received a summons to appear in court on May 7 to show why the injunction for abuse should not be granted.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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