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Spared Akitas Given Death Sentence

West Tisbury Selectmen reverse their decision after owner betrays trust.

The West Tisbury Selectmen made a controversial decision this week by unanimously agreeing to euthanize two Akitas owned by Taggart Young of West Tisbury and Anna Bolotovsky of Newton, MA.

The decision came one week after the selectmen voted not to euthanize the dogs, but instead to order them off the Island. The dogs killed neighboring farmer Richard Andre’s livestock three times in the past three months, after getting loose from their owner's property.

After the first attack in early November, the dog owners were ordered to build a chain link enclosure for the dogs and pay $150 to Andre, which they did. However the chain link enclosure did not keep the dogs from getting out two more times.

According to a report in the Martha’s Vineyard Times, “On the most recent occasion, the pair killed 14 chickens and attacked some geese.”

On February 1, the selectmen voted 2-1 not to euthanize the dogs, but instead to ban them from the Island forever. One of the dogs, Zion is being held at Animal Health Care at the airport that serves as the Island’s pound, and the other dog, Sensi, is living with Bolotvsky’s mother in Newton.

Originally, an agreement to be signed and ready for a final vote was planned for February 8 after which time, Zion would go to Newton and Young and Bolotovsky would compensate Andre for the lost livestock.

All of this changed on February 2 when Young went to Animal Health Care and told them that the selectmen had given him permission to take Zion.

As a result, the selectmen voted this week to rescind last week’s decision and instead ordered that the dogs be euthanized.

Selectmen Richard Knabel told MVPatch, “I doubt anyone involved, including the owner of the dead livestock, comes away at this point with any sense of satisfaction or even justice. Certainly I don’t. This has been the most awful, difficult, and distasteful series of incidents I have experienced in my relatively short time as a selectman, and it continues to be on my mind constantly.

"On our side of the table we thought we made a good-faith attempt at resolving a nasty situation that would, if not please all the parties, not make matters worse. We were defeated in that effort by one of the owners whose attitude and irresponsible behavior made it unreasonable for the selectmen to enter into an agreement that might have saved the dogs. The law does not give selectmen many options.

"Euthanizing the dogs is the most difficult and distasteful one, and we arrived at it very reluctantly. Painfully. I hope never to have to deal with such a situation again.”

The motion requires that both dogs be put to death, but since Sensi is in Newton, it is not clear whether the owners will be forced to bring the dog to the Island. The owners can file an appeal in Edgartown District Court within 10 days of the selectmen’s signing of the final order.

In the meantime Sensi will stay in Newton and Zion will remain in the custody of Animal Health Care.

Rachel Rice February 11, 2012 at 04:17 PM
I'm a former Islander now living in Vermont. This is really horrible. As someone who has had neighbors' dogs kill my chickens, I see both sides of this issue. Three different dogs, two different owners, total of 14 chickens and 6 ducks killed. I've tried to get the dogs removed from the neighborhood, but it hasn't happened. I would not want them euthanized, though. It isn't the dogs' fault. If the owners are noncompliant, then the solution is not to euthanize the dogs, but to remove them from the owners and have them sent to where there are no nearby livestock, and where the owners are responsible owners. There are plenty of understanding rescue groups.
pamela spencer February 11, 2012 at 04:43 PM
years ago i adopted a german wirehaired pointer who was due to be euthenized for similar chicken issues. her owner could not control her behavior but did not want her to be killed. she was one of the most loving and loyal dogs i have ever had. these 2 dogs from west tisbury should not pay for the situation they have been placed in. their owners should. these people have no right to ever own an animal again and there should be extremely severe punishments for the cruelty they have shown to these dogs. pamela spencer
Michael G February 11, 2012 at 09:17 PM
This weekend I'm reminded of a line from the bar scene in the first Star Wars where the patron says to Luke Skywalker that he's got the death sentence on 12 systems. Well the dogs have the death sentence on the island and one is already off the island so I don't see how anyone can expect that the owner would bring the dog back to be put to death. Certainly I wouldn't it. The next question is really why are the selectmen punishing the dog for the bad behavior of the owner whose actions in lying to the shelter have to constitute some form of independent crime or at the very least a punishable fraud. Wouldn't it make more sense to punish the owner for his transgressions, than to kill the dog for behaving like the animal it is. Get the dog off the island. Punish the owner. Maybe a fine or civil penalty of treble damages (three times the value of the creatures the dogs have killed) If the selectmen have the authority let them take the remaining dog and put it up for adoption off island. A further penalty against the owner who lied about the release might be a permanent injunction against him from owning or possessing a dog of any kind on the island. His violation of such an order would constitute contempt of court. Punish the owner not the dog.
Maribeth February 12, 2012 at 12:47 AM
Bravo Michael G ~ yes.
Cindy Carlson June 09, 2013 at 01:29 PM
I wish the "Proper Punishment", of the humans involved, was planned. Surely anyone can see that nearly ANY dog, of any breed, and doubtlress numerous cats as well, would feel duty bound to chase, and yers, maul and/or eat chickens, ducks, etc. It is MURDER to kill two normal canines for doing what comes naturally! The owner must control the canine inclination to hunt, herd, etc. which WE, (the humans) have instilled in them thru selective breeding. Oh...if only intelligence and fairness had been bred into people...sadly, it has not.

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