Select Board Rules Two Dogs Dangerous

by William F. Galvin
Animal Control Officer Jennifer Harrington presents her report on the Dings' dogs to the select board on Monday night. WILLIAM F. GALVIN PHOTO Animal Control Officer Jennifer Harrington presents her report on the Dings' dogs to the select board on Monday night. WILLIAM F. GALVIN PHOTO

HARWICH – The two dogs owned by Wendela and James Dings of 38 Riverside Dr. were declared “dangerous” by the select board, and stringent confinement conditions have been put in place for the canines.

The dogs, Apollo, a border collie, and Brody, a terrier, have a long history of running loose in the neighborhood, barking and chasing after pedestrians and other dogs.

At a dangerous dog hearing Monday, Animal Control Officer Jennifer Harrington presented a list of department responses to incidents involving the dogs dating back to 2019, which included excessive barking, accosting a couple walking down the road and chasing several people and other dogs. There has also been a history of dog licensing issues, according to Harrington.

“There is a long history of the Dings’ dogs coming off property, including previous dogs in their care going back to 2001,” according a report filed by Harrington. “It is my professional opinion that there is a great lack of responsibility as dog owners which has become dangerous with the dogs repeatedly being loose and the escalation in aggressive behavior.”

On Feb. 20, Karla Cahalane was attacked by Apollo and received a serious bite to the back of her thigh requiring medical treatment. Cahalane, who lives on Chase Street in Dennis, testified that while she was walking down Riverside Drive listening to a podcast, she felt a bite. Both dogs were present, but she was sure the bigger dog, Apollo, was the dog that bit her. Cahalane called the police department.

Harrington said when she arrived she noticed Cahalane’s coat was torn and feathers were falling out. Cahalane reached to the area of the bite and there was blood. Cahalane was treated by the Dennis Rescue Squad and saw her medical doctor.

In her recommendations to the select board, Harrington said Apollo should be declared a “dangerous” dog, and Brody considered a “nuisance.” She said the dogs had not been licensed for several years and were not licensed at the time of the Feb. 20 attack.

Cahalane said the incident has affected her life; she is afraid to walk in the neighborhood, she freezes when she sees a dog not on a leash, and the event traumatized her.

“I’m sick over this,” said Wendela Dings. “I want to apologize deeply. Legal action has been taken and we’re cooperating as best we can. We offer our deepest apologies.”

Select Board member Michael MacAskill offered a motion declaring both dogs dangerous, adding the dogs have attacked both humans and other dogs, causing bodily injury to both humans and dogs.

“My thinking is they acted together and terrorized together,” said MacAskill. “Every incident included both dogs, except for one. [The Dings] said they would put up a pen, but the fact is there is no pen. The history has gone on so long. The fact is both dogs are dangerous.”

The dogs not being licensed shows non-compliance over the years, Select Board member Jeffrey Handler said. The board voted 5-0 to declare both dogs dangerous.

The board followed the recommendation of Harrington that the dogs be securely confined indoors or confined outdoors in a securely enclosed and locked pen or dog run area upon the owners’ premises within a fenced-in yard. The pen or dog run must have a secure roof and include a proper doghouse.

Outside the owners’ home, the dogs must be securely and properly restrained with a leash no longer than six feet in length. Only an adult over the age of 18 years of age can walk the dogs. The dogs’ rabies vaccinations must be kept current and the dogs must be licensed annually in the town where they are kept. Furthermore, the Dings will be held responsible for any damage and medical bills concurred by the victim.

In her report, Harrington recommended that if there are additional incidents, the dogs be surrendered to a shelter or rescue within 10 days.