Police Chief John Romero has condemned Asia the pit bull to death for biting a Chester Street woman in her yard last week.
"I have determined that the animal should be euthanized, given its vicious history and its action in this incident," Romero said following a 25-minute dangerous dog hearing in his office.
Romero said he gave the dog's owner, Juan Serrano of 80 Bowdoin St., the option of turning the dog over to the MSPCA to determine if Asia, a two-year female, can be rehabilitated and given to a new owner.
"Since he's unwilling to do that, our only recourse is to have the animal destroyed," the chief said.
Asia has been in the city pound since last Thursday, when animal control officer Ellen Bistany had the dog seized. Witnesses said it attacked Liris Nunez, 62, of 75 Chester St.
Nunez said she was picking green beans in her garden when the dog crawled under the fence that separates her backyard from the neighbor's yard and charged at her, biting her on the thigh and then on the thumb.
She received 13 stitches to close the thumb wound. Nunez also said she had dental work to replace three front teeth that she chipped after falling to the ground and banging her mouth on bricks surrounding her garden.
When reached by telephone last night, dog owner Serrano said, "They lie. What they're saying is not true. My dog didn't bite anybody. They just want to kill my dog.
"I don't believe what the lady says,'' Serrano said. "She was spraying water at the dog, throwing rocks at her and doing things to the dog."
Serrano said Romero gave him 72 hours to consult with a lawyer and decide whether to appeal the chief's decision in Lawrence District Court. Serrano said he planned to talk with Lawrence attorney James Landy today to determine what to do next.
"I love my dog, and I want my dog back," Serrano said.
During yesterday's hearing, Serrano accused Nunez of taunting the dog and untying her, according to a police department report of the proceeding. Serrano told the chief he had an argument the previous week with Nunez when she complained about the dog's constant barking, the report said.
The report said Romero told Serrano he was "unable or unwilling to properly secure this animal and this has put your neighbors at risk."
"Your assertion that the victim is somehow responsible for the attack by untying the dog and allowing it into her yard is not credible," Romero said.
"As Chief of Police, it is my responsibility to protect the residents of this city,'' he continued in the report. "We have a confirmed dog bite as well as numerous complaints from neighbors and the U.S. Post Office as to how this animal has terrorized the neighborhood .... The dog is banned from Lawrence."
Romero later said his decision to have the dog euthanized would be postponed if Serrano appeals, pending the outcome of any court action.
During the last 10 years, Romero said four dogs in the city have been destroyed, in each case, after the MSPCA determined the dogs could not rehabilitated. In at least one instance, an owner sued police, but lost the case.
"Clearly, this dog is bad for Lawrence," Romero said of Asia. "And clearly, this was the right option to take. The clincher was the dog's history and the fact that the woman was bitten in her own yard. That was enough. Then, there are lots of kids in that neighborhood. The people in that neighborhood live in fear of that dog."
Serrano said the chief was not interested in hearing his side of the story.
"Six people came with me yesterday to testify, but only two were allowed to be there (at the hearing)," Serrano said. "He's (Romero) not interested in the truth."
Romero said, "Let him take me to court if he wants. That's his right."