Town gives dog death sentence for kil...

Town gives dog death sentence for killing goat

There are 23 comments on the The Reporter story from Mar 21, 2008, titled Town gives dog death sentence for killing goat. In it, The Reporter reports that:

“We'd like to do all we can to rectify the situation as best we can”

TRIBUNE ROWLEY, Mass. - Does a dog that kills a goat deserve the death penalty? That was the question considered by Rowley selectmen earlier this week in the case of Niko, a black Labrador retreiver mix that ... via The Reporter

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My opinion

Foxboro, MA

#1 Mar 21, 2008
As a responsible dog owner and police officer, I would love to comment on this matter.

Being realistic, my immediate suggestion would be for the owners of the dog to re-imburse the owners of the deceased goat, allowing them to purchase a new one.

In an attempt to keep the dog from being put to sleep, I would also suggest having a stockade fence placed around house of the dog owner. It might be costly, but it would keep the dog from leaving the yard. Other thoughts would be to house them or kennel them, and establish a leash law in your town if you do not already have one.

In the state of Massachusetts, does a person that kills another deserve the death penalty?

People commit murder in our state with malice aforethought, and are awarded defense attorneys at the cost of the tax payers. Even if proven guilty, they are sentenced to prison. Murderers are allowed to continue on in their lives. If euthanization is humane, then murderers should be dealth with humanely also.

If a dog bites a person in this state, that dog is usually put to sleep.

Does anyone ever consider the circumstances of the dog? Was it on it's own property? Did the dog carefully plan out the attack with malice aforethought? Why should animals be treated any differently? Consider a dog protecting his home. In doing so, please take a peek at the castle law,

It just kills me to see 'people' wanting to euthanize an animal for resorting to it's animal instinct, yet when a real animal (murderer) plans out and commits the most severe crime, he/she first needs to be captured. A dog returns home, unknowing that he has committed a 'crime'. And we want to put it to sleep?

Now ask yourself, was it a fair judgement? Are alternatives available?

I do not even know the owners, but pleae do not put the dog to sleep.
Mike Passanisi

Waltham, MA

#2 Mar 23, 2008
I appreciate all the support for Niko! This whole ordeal is such a mess! I'm not a religios man, however I never underestimate the power of prayer! Please keep us in yours. Thanks again, Mike Passanisi

Salem, MA

#3 Mar 25, 2008
I agree that the dog should have been kept on a leash. However, I would like anyone to show me a dog who does not smell and seek out dead things when outside. Presence is not proof of guilt, it is merely proof of inspection. How can a dog be condemned to death for something noone saw it do? How can there be blood on the other goats but no blood on the "killer"? Canines do not kill in a clean fashion, anyone who has witnessed a dog "playing" has witnessed this. A fine should be issued for the leash law, but I want a witness to the death prior to a death sentence.

Middleton, MA

#4 Mar 25, 2008
In reply to the comment made by the police officer above;
It's too bad your brother officers didn't think like you. I understand that this goat owner is a police officer as well. I would be worried knowing my angry neighbor who wants my dog dead has a gun. Mike, I am not religious either, but I certainly will pray for you, your dog, and especially for your heartless neighbor. There is NO PROOF your dog even did the deed. You were kind and honest enough to come forward and confess to a crime your dog may have not even committed. Most people who hit and kill a dog or cat with their car simply drive away. Keep fighting.

Belmont, MA

#5 Mar 25, 2008
All I can say is where did the common sense go? Think about what our world would be like if all our beloved pets could be judged as harshly as this for something they may not have been guilty of. It is shameful. I think those that made this snap decision have painted themselves into a corner and now they have mud on their faces. Pray for the owner and his beloved pet.

Salem, MA

#6 Mar 25, 2008

It will set a precedent if the Rowley selectman,(who are playing judge, jury and executor) follow through with killing this dog.

In other words, if YOUR dog mistakenly gets loose and kills a “pet” it could be facing the same fate as Mike’s dog Niko.
Whether it is a Molly the “pet” goat, Peter the “pet” rabbit, a Rocky the “pet” raccoon, Ally the “pet” cat, Miss Piggy the “pet” guinea pig, or “Arnold” the pig,…..they are all pets.

The goat owner’s dog is also not leased in their yard. It’s behind an invisible fence. Although invisible fences work great, like anything else they are not perfect either.

The collars may stop working, i.e. dead batteries etc.. or the dog may decide that chasing a squirrel running by the yard is worth a quick jolt and go blasting through the invisible barrier. Once outside the fence the dogs are afraid to go back into the yard because of the jolt they just got. What then?

If the tables were turned, and their dog got loose and killed a neighbors beloved pet goat, or for that matter; a pet rabbit, or cat, would they be agreeing to put THEIR dog down?

Abington, MA

#7 Mar 26, 2008
i had a black lab- around 9 years old, he was a rescue that I took in at age 5 and I do not know his background- out of nowhere he killed our goat (at the neck, juggular-loads of blood on the goat and not a bit on the dog- and he was seen licking the blood off the goat after the kill-still no blood on the dog)- After that kill my lab became very aggressive and territorial towards other dogs. We live on a farm and unfortuantley others can be a bit clueless about coming over and letting there dogs "play" with my dogs even after they were warned not to because of this incident with the goat. I would suggest that the owner not be forced to put his dog down, but that he have an animal behavioralist and trainer work with him and Niko and, no doubt-a better fence, double fence-even (stockade and invisible or a professional kennel run-less expensive then legal fees) in an effort to save his beloved dog. I had to make the terrible decision to turn my dog in ARL after the dog viciously attacked two other dogs who's owners thought there dogs would like a "play date"--please don't be naive to this, this was my dogs territory and he had to pay the price for protecting his home(luckily the other dogs were not seriously injured-stiches for one was the worst- but if husband had not been able to intervine it would have been to the kill0 that is the report I was given )I should also note that none of these attacks happened when I was home, he saw me as pack leader, or perhaps I was more aware of the need to contain him then my husband when other animals came to "visit".(we have invisible fence, my dogs were contained but this dog needed to be put in the house when others appeared. The dog was never aggressive in the past and not once to a human, but after the goat incident he became territorial and I have small children and kids here all the time. I couldn't argue to save my dog any longer though it breaks my heart to this day.
Jenn M

Peabody, MA

#8 Mar 26, 2008
Niko is my dog. Due to recent occurances he no longer lives with me and lives with my former-stepfather. He was fairly honest almost to a fault. Im 17 years old. And for 5 1/2 years out of Niko's life he slept in the same bed as me. Licked my face if I cried. Whined at my door if it was shut. Articles I have read so far try and call him "agressive". Tell me how you came to that conclusion? Have you sat in the same room as the dog? Tried to pet him or scratch his back? Because I can promise he will never turn away a nice rub of the head. As he was growing up we would do things like touch him while he was eating, move his food, etc just for the fact of if a kid was around he wouldnt snap at them because he was eating like many dogs tend to do. He may not be the brightest dog and can be VERY clumsy. To me he's my baby whether I live with him or not. To not give him a chance is disgusting. Mike Passanisi means what he says, him, myself, my sister, my mother, and so many others will do anything to fight for this dog. Its a shame people can be so blindsighted to what if this was their childs pet, or even merely their own pet who was getting taken away for something they dont have solid proof for. Even a judicial court wont be so cruel to a human for lack of solid evidence.
He is a beautiful dog, full of character. Give my baby a chance.
Jenn M

Peabody, MA

#9 Mar 26, 2008
Mike, I'm so sorry. I know Niko and Goldie are the kids you never had. I know you will do anything for them and please believe me, no matter what had happened I will be there and do anything for that big baby and do my best to hold back tears. You know he means the world to me. This hurts and I can only imagine how much it could be killing you. Dont let anyone bring you down on what you belive about this and what's right. Fight as far as possible, in anyway I will be right there with you.

Waltham, MA

#10 Mar 28, 2008
It might interest many people who are following this case to know that the Dog Officer has never met Niko, and has a reputation for being sorely lacking in the compassion dept.
It is also important to point out that the decission was partly based on faulty assumptions made by the selectmen about the dogs past.
The lesson seems to be that if you come forward and try to do the right thing, you will pay dearly, possibly with your lives. Is that really the message they want to send to our community and our children?
Concerned Dog Lover


#11 Mar 29, 2008
I just read an article about this case and I'm horrified that Selectmen would put the poor dog to death. And I have to wonder if the dog really killed the goat in the first place. He's 6 which is pretty old for a black lab and I can't imagine a dog with the gentle nature of a lab would kill a goat. I wouldn't be surprised if the dog came to the goat's defense and scared the real attacker (like maybe a coyote) away though. I wonder if the goats have ever been attacked before.
I hope the Selectmen rethink their cruel and unusual punishment of this dog. A fence would keep the dog away from the goats.

Chelsea, MA

#12 Mar 29, 2008
I am totally appalled at the decision that was handed down on the advice of this so called dog officer. This is outrageous: I just read an article that stated the dog officer allowed the goat to lay there in the rain for hours after it was reported to him that the goat was attacked. The officer did not make any effort to contact the owner of the goat after it was reported. He told the dog owner to do it. What a total lack of care, concern, responsibility and professionalism that is. Perhaps the goat could have been saved. Perhaps the goat was still alive when it was reported immediately after the incident. The article also stated that the prior incident in Salem was dismissed. There was no evidence of violent or aggressive behavior. For God's sake, dogs tangle sometimes. I read that this was going to court on April 24th. I hope that a lot of people show up to offer support. What court is this being heard at? Is there any fund set up so people can offer money to help save Niko? I can't imagine the expenses it will cost this dog owner to retain an attorney. Not only that, but Rowley will have to fork over some taxpayer money to appear at court as well. If this is not stopped NOW, every single dog owner in Rowley will meet the same fate if their dog happens to kill someone's pet cat, squirrel, dog, rabbit and so on with a first offense. There are so many other methods of punishment that should have been used before sentencing this dog to death. What about fines, restitution, an order to put up a fence, an order to an evaluation? Only then, if the dog owner refused to comply, the last measure should be to have the dog removed from the town until the owner was in compliance. This is a disgrace and an outrage.
Goat Owner near Rowley

Prides Crossing, MA

#13 Mar 29, 2008
The Dog needs to be removed from the owner, banned from town and the owner must have the dog re-trained before being placed into another home. The animal control officer needs to be fired and the selectman.... well that is what elections are for.
I know the LeBel family and they are good people. The kind of people you want for a nieghbors. My wife works with the animal control officer and he is not a smart or kind person. I do not know the owners of the dog but they should have kept the dog under control. Bottom - line.
I am pleading with Rick to do the right thing and spare the dogs life. I would be as angry if my goats died this way; but you cannot blame the animal for the owners error.
Thank you
Goat Owner near Rowley

Prides Crossing, MA

#14 Mar 29, 2008
I live in Georgetown - Dont know why it says Westwood


#15 Mar 30, 2008
There is absolutely no proof that the dog in question committed the crime.

It's a sad commentary that people get so outraged over something such as dog ordered to be destroyed yet ignore a story about a Salisbury parent who had his 2 year old child in a car while dealing class B and D drugs.
Long term Resident

Boston, MA

#16 Mar 31, 2008
As a long term area resident as well as pet owner myself, Horses - Dogs & Cats I feel a need to voice my opinion. I myself in the past have had my own dog sneak out of the yard from breaking loose. As it is indeed the owners responsiblity for control of their animal, I think we need to address some statements made as well as questions. I have followed this matter and have many questions as well as concerns to statements that have been strewn about. The goat owners way that the dog was in the caged in area and the goats were "covered in blood" and the dog was not? How can this even be possible. I do however know the area extremely well and know for a fact that there are Coyotes, Fox as well as other wildlife lurking about in great abundance. I do find it a possibility that the dog heard the goats being attacked, and instinct brought him to a situtation that now he is indeed being blamed for. I am sorry for the Lebel family for loosing a pet I certainly feel for them. But I certainly hope that they are absolutely positive in their accusations of such. Holding this thought~ blind judgement will not bring peace nor will it prove anything but bad judgement . Yes, the dog owners are responsible for their pet, they know this, I highly doubt that Niko the dog is the attacker. Open your eyes and don't be so quick to judge I am quite sure Doc Orcutt would agree.

Brookline, MA

#17 Mar 31, 2008
Now tell me if this is not a decision based on emotion, discrimination and bias....Mr. Cook should be ashamed of himself along with the rest of the selectmen.

Saturday March 29, 2008, 11:09 am
Cronyism charged in case of dog death sentence

By Lynne Hendricks

ROWLEY — Charges of cronyism are being leveled against selectmen for ordering the death of a newcomer's dog after it killed a lifetime resident's pet goat.

Selectmen are denying it, with one calling the charges "garbage."

The five-member Board of Selectmen ordered that Michael Passanisi's 6-year-old black Labrador retriever mix, Niko, be euthanized for killing neighbor Richard Lebel's goat, Miss Daisy, in February. The dog was to be killed next week, but the Passanisis have appealed the decision to Newburyport District Court, where it will be heard April 24.

The motion made by Selectman Richard Cummings to euthanize Niko was seconded by longtime resident Selectman Jack Cook, who stated that the Lebels being lifelong residents was a deciding factor in his decision.

"The Lebels have been there many years," Cook said at the meeting. "I'm gonna take sides with them." .....
and again-

Boston, MA

#18 Apr 1, 2008
The dog officer Mr. Reed Wilson should be ashamed of himself as well.....

Newburyport News

Published: March 28, 2008 06:55
Dog owner to appeal death sentence
By Lynne Hendricks

……Cohen said he and Foley are questioning the actions of animal control officer Reed Wilson, who recommended to selectmen that Niko be euthanized.
"It's concerning to us the animal control officer offered an opinion without ever examining Niko," Cohen said. "(Niko) does not have a history as a serial biter. Even if he did it, it's his first-time offense."
Cohen added the death of the Lebels' goat was an emotional event made worse by the actions of Wilson, who left to Passanisi the task of informing the Lebels of their dead goat. And since Passanisi was told by Wilson to head over after work at 8:30 p.m., that meant the goats — one dead and two wounded — were left unattended in their pen for seven hours with no medical attention.
Wilson made matters worse for both parties by not taking responsibility for the situation himself.
"He saw the goats but left it to a client to have to explain it to (the owners)," Cohen said. "I would think you'd want to get the goats some help as soon as you could. That sickens me as an animal lover. He didn't show any care for the goat owners or the goats."
Wilson could not be reached for comment …..
beating a dead horse


#19 Apr 2, 2008
you all have inundated the paper with opinion letters, to the point of obsession over this issue.
Had the owners been home at the time they would have had every legal right to shoot the damn dog if he was in their pen.
Had the incident happened that way NONE of you would have a thing to say! The only difference between this case and the one in Newburyport was the owner was home when he found a dog in his hen house and shot it.

Boston, MA

#20 Apr 2, 2008
beating a dead horse wrote:
you all have inundated the paper with opinion letters, to the point of obsession over this issue.
Had the owners been home at the time they would have had every legal right to shoot the damn dog if he was in their pen.
Had the incident happened that way NONE of you would have a thing to say! The only difference between this case and the one in Newburyport was the owner was home when he found a dog in his hen house and shot it.
Each and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. If the goat owner was home at the time, he would have been able to see for himself that it was in fact a dog, and not a coyote that was attacking his goats.
This is a story about the total lack of professionalism regarding the town authorities. When you are so misfortunate to have the town authorities play this game with you on ANY issue, hopefully YOU will have the support that is shown here as well. It's about standing up for your rights. I am glad to see the people writing letters and posting opinions. If the selectmen and dog officer acted with reasonable common sense, there would be no story. Blame them.

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