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Dog Fight Injures Boxborough Man

The Finn Road, Harvard entrance to Delaney Wildlife area where an injured Boxborough man and his dog were met by local public safety personnel .
Nancy Arsenault

By Nancy Arsenault

A Boxborough man and his dog were both injured on Saturday after an altercation between several dogs at the Delaney Wildlife Management Area.

A little before noon that day, police departments in Stow, Bolton and Harvard received several  911 cell phone calls from the Delaney Wildlife Management Area. Stow EMTs and Police responded to the Finn Road entrance of Delaney, just over the town line into Harvard, the closest point to the origin of the cell phone signals.

There they found a group of people indicating that a 54-year-old man from Boxborough, out for a walk with his Border Collie, got in between his dog and two other dogs involved in an intense dog fight on the paths well in from the road.

According to first responders at the scene, the man was bleeding profusely from numerous head wounds and lacerations to the face. Despite his condition, with the help of people who came running when they heard his screams, the man walked over a half mile out of the woods, while carrying his injured dog.  Those on scene reported that the other dogs involved and their owner had left the area by another route and they were not present when rescue personnel arrived.

Evers said the man’s wounds were so severe that a call went out for an Advanced Life Support ambulance to transport the man to the UMass Medical Center Trauma unit. Finding no ALS ambulances available, and determining that the man’s condition was too critical to wait, Evers and Fire Captain/EMT John Paul Benoit brought the man directly to UMass in the Stow ambulance. “He was losing a lot of blood,” said Evers. Apprentice firefighters Kristina Ellis and Michael Csiek kept the man stable during the drive.  The man’s Border Collie was taken to the vet by a family member and underwent surgery for his injuries.

Harvard Police Investigate
While the victim was being rushed for treatment, the Harvard Police Department was investigating the incident. According to police Officer Daniele Fortunato of Harvard, there were no witnesses to the altercation except for the Boxborough man and the woman who owned the three dogs, and at that time, the woman’s name and whereabouts were unknown.

By Monday, Harvard police reported that the owner of the three dogs involved had called authorities and identified herself. Harvard police did confirm that she was not one of the people who called 911 on Saturday from Delaney. She has been identified as a new resident of Stow.

All of the dogs involved, including the injured dog, were walking off leash, according to authorities. The rules of use for the Delaney Project include that all dogs must be leashed at all times. This has previously been a hotly debated issue among those who use the state-owned conservation and recreation property that stretches across several towns.

The dogs involved in the attack, a boxer mix and a field dog mix, are currently quarantined at the Stow kennel. A third dog that was with the others and owned by the same person, a pug, was not actively involved in the attack but has been quarantined together with the other dogs.

According to Stow Animal Control Officer Susan Latham, the dogs must be held for 10 days until it can be determined if they carry the rabies disease.

Harvard Police Officer Fortunato said that her town considers the case closed after gathering a statement from each of the individuals involved. “There are no criminal charges pending,” she said, though the department advised the Boxborough man that he can request a dangerous dog hearing before the Town of Stow where the other dogs and their owner reside.

Board of Health Chairman Marcia Rising said laws have changed regarding dangerous dogs from what they have been in recent years.  If a dog is deemed to be dangerous to its owners or the public, a town can no longer accept relocation of a dangerous dog to another community as an acceptable solution. Rising said there are only two choices for a dog that is found to be dangerous – euthanasia or the owners must construct a fenced area that is flush with the house to contain the animal when outside. The dog must be able to access this area directly from the house, without passing through exterior doors or openings that are outside the fenced in area.  “The dog(s) would not be allowed outside the fenced in area except on a leash, within the control of the owner,” said Rising.

If the Stow Board of Health receives a letter of request for a hearing from the Boxborough man, then “we will hear both sides of the story and make a decision,” she said. That dangerousness hearing can only make decisions regarding public safety concerning a dog.
The Animal Control Officer or the Massachusetts Environmental Police are authorized to issue citations and fines to any parties who do not adhere to the leash requirement at Delaney. No citations have been issued at this time.