Thursday, June 9, 2011

Pit bull who bit elderly man given death sentence

By Nick Grabbe, Daily Hampshire Gazette

The Select Board has ordered the death of Poochy, a pit bull terrier that attacked an 85-year-old man, resulting in his hospitalization.
But Poochy's owners have appealed the order, and a hearing has been scheduled for June 22 at 10:30 a.m. in Eastern Hampshire District Court in Belchertown.
Police officer Mitchell Kuc told the board that Stephen Bristol, 85, of 93 Mount Warner Road underwent emergency surgery at Cooley Dickinson Hospital following the May 5 incident.
Kuc said Karen Gunther, Bristol's daughter, told him her father was on the property of Edward Gralinski at 57 Mount Warner Road when the dog attacked him. Bristol was bitten on the arm and leg, according to animal inspector Marilyn Iwanicki.
Kuc said Gralinski drove Bristol to the hospital. Initially Bristol said he did not want to take action against his neighbor, but changed his mind because of the severity of his injuries, Kuc said.
He told the board there were reports of two other attacks by Poochy, one from the hospital and the other from Carol Hepburn, Amherst's animal welfare officer.
According to the minutes of last week's hearing, Gralinski told the Select Board that the dog, which weighs between 70 and 80 pounds, doesn't bother people he knows, "but if you get near the greenhouse or main farm or house he will tear into you, there's no doubt." Gralinski admitted that Poochy has bitten two people.
He said Poochy is now confined and the family is looking into building a larger pen for him.
Steve Bristol, the victim's son, told the board his father is having recurring dreams about the attack and asked that Poochy be put to death, according to the minutes. He said Hadley could face liability for the dog if there is another attack.
Gunther said her father would have died in the attack if Gralinski had not appeared on the scene, according to the minutes.
Select Board members David Moskin, Gloria DiFulvio and Brian West, the only ones present, voted for putting Poochy to death. Moskin said that a bigger pen cannot guarantee neighbors' safety, and West said the board has a duty to protect everyone, according to the meeting minutes.

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