Vicious dog hearing in Brandon comes to a peaceful conclusion


BRANDON — The Brandon selectboard convened on Monday night in a special session to hear vicious dog testimony from residents Christie Whittemore and Ashleigh and Jeff Heath about recent issues involving two of the Heaths’ dogs jumping fences and biting Whittemore’s dog.

According to the letter of complaint sent to the board by Ms. Whittemore, the issue began last May when one of the Heaths’ dogs, a blue heeler, jumped the four-foot fence dividing their properties and bit Ms. Whittemore’s whippet, Lou-Lou, who was not seriously injured.

Tim Kingston of Animal Control was contacted and reviewed the situation. However, no direction was given to the Heaths at that time beyond seeing that all their animals received vaccination and registration in accordance with local laws—which they quickly did.

According to Whittemore’s letter, another event occurred on August 28, when the Heaths’ dog again jumped the fence and bit Lou-Lou, while also attempting to bite Ms. Whittemore’s husband as he sought to contain them on the Heaths’ side of the fence. Once again, Tim Kingston of Animal Control—who was not in attendance Monday night—was called, but the letter mentions no specific directions given to either party.

For their part, the Heaths expressed their remorse but also their surprise as they said they had not been made aware of the August 28 incident by either Animal Control or Ms. Whittemore, despite Ms. Whittemore saying that she and Mr. Kingston had attempted to call Mr. Heath, who said his cell phone number had not changed in 15 years.

The Heaths were also not provided a synopsis of the August 28 incident when they were issued a summons from the town as to the hearing—a fact which had caused Ms. Heath great anxiety and tension and for which Selectboard Chairman Seth Hopkins issued a contrite apology, citing a potential administrative error.

“A clearer procedure should be given from the selectmen to the town administrative staff to let them know that the complaint should go out with the notice to appear,” said Mr. Hopkins, “and I apologize that it didn’t. I understand what the anxiety that getting a notice to appear without having any facts would do to someone over the course of a long weekend.

Both the Heaths and Ms. Whittemore made repeated comments throughout the hearing as to their willingness to be “good neighbors” and to come to a peaceful resolution. In fact, the Heaths had a fence crew with them to demonstrate their desire and ability to contain their dogs and to provide some sense of security for Ms. Whittemore and her dogs.

Both Ms. Whittemore and the board seemed satisfied by the Heaths’ resolution, and it was agreed that they would have until the end of the month to construct a new fence and that they would take every measure to contain their dogs until then,

“It seems like everybody wants to get along,” said selectboardman Brian Coolidge. “To me, it feels like we’re here prematurely. I think the neighbors will work it out amongst themselves—there doesn’t seem to be any hostility here. I have confidence that everything will be fine.”

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