ST. ALBANS CITY — After its regular monthly meeting on Monday night, the city council retired to discuss the fate of four dogs accused of attacking either other animals or a person.
The council is expected to release a written decision regarding the dogs’ fates.
The first case involved three pit bulls which attacked two other dogs, one of which died days later.
Phillip Katon, Sr., told officers he was visiting 55 Fairfield Street with his niece’s two dogs, Pickles and Lola, when they were attacked by the three pit bulls, owned by Brian Ross.
Pickles, an 8-year-old Shih Tzu weighing 16 pounds, was injured on his back leg and was bleeding.
Lola, a 7-year old Shih Tzu weighing 14 pounds, was pregnant with puppies. She suffered a broken leg and was bleeding from multiple locations including her face, belly and legs following the attack.
Lola gave birth three days later to five stillborn puppies and one live puppy, but she still couldn’t walk so Katon told police she was taken to the vet.
There it was discovered that there were still two more fetuses, both stillborn, inside Lola.
The vet reported Lola was septic from the stillborn fetuses. She was put down.
The pit bulls are owned by Brian Ross. They were unregistered and did not have vaccination records. Nor did they have collars.
Katon said he tried to pull the pit bulls, each of which weighs approximately 70 pounds, off of the two Shih Tzus. He described the effort to get one of the dogs to release Lola as “a tug of war.”
A woman who attempted to help Katon get the pit bulls off of Lola said it was difficult to pull the dogs off because they didn’t have collars. The owner of the pit bulls didn’t show up until the attack was over and she was calling police, the witness said in a written statement.
At that point, Ross “started screaming at me… He was screaming at me and telling me to put the [expletive deleted] phone down if I was calling police. He continued to scream at me and flip me off and grab his genitals,” the witness wrote.
Ross also, the witness said, threatened Katon when Katon came over to thank her for helping stop the attack.
One of the pit bulls is the mother of the other two.
“If these were older pit bulls I believe they would have been much more dangerous… The pit bulls were focused on shredding these small dogs to pieces,” the witness wrote.
This was not the first incident involving Ross’s pit bulls.
The dogs were accused of a similar attack on July 19, 2018. But the witnesses said they feared retaliation and were unwilling to give their names to police.
The St. Albans Police Dept. (SAPD) learned of that attack from the anonymous witnesses on July 20 and visited Ross who told police his dog had just given birth to puppies and he was in the process of getting rid of them. Ross was instructed to get the dogs registered, according to a report police provided to the council, and said he would do so the following Monday.
The dogs remained unregistered five months later.
On July 23, the owner of the dog reportedly attacked on July 19 filed a complaint with police. Suzanne Desrochers told police that one of Ross’s pit bulls had grabbed her dog by the neck and that she had to hit it to get it to release her dog.
She said her dog was leashed at the time of the attack but the pit bull was not.
The bite required 23 stitches.
Desrochers said she decided to come forward after learning from neighbors that Ross’s dogs had been involved in previous attacks.
When visited by police a second time, Ross said his dog had been attacked.
Ross did not appear at the hearing last night. SAPD Lt. Ben Couture said the police had had trouble finding him to serve him notice of the hearing, but had succeeded in serving him at 12:30 p.m. Monday.
Couture presented the SAPD’s recommendations to require Ross to have the dogs vaccinated and registered and that all three be kept on a leash whenever they were outside.
Councilor Chad Spooner, Ward 6, pointed out that those are the very same rules all dog owners in the city are required to follow, whether or not their dog has been involved in an attack.
Mayor Tim Smith asked if Ross had attempted to pay for any of the treatment Lola required. Katon said he had not.
“I personally feel like he shouldn’t have the dogs anymore,” Angel Katon, owner of Lola and Pickles, told the council.
Bank Street incident
In another December dog attack, the council had ordered the owner of a dog named Benson to remove him from the city limits after Benson was accused of biting a person on Dec. 10.
Benson’s owner, Jessica Kane, said it had taken her longer than the time allotted to relocate the dog. However, he is now living in Bennington with her partner’s family.
Couture told the council he would like the city to issue a seizure order so that if the dog returns it may be taken into custody.
Kane said Benson did bite, but immediately retreated. He is a rescue dog and she has been working with him, Kane said.