Update, 11:30 a.m., Aug. 4
A Rockville Superior Court Judge has removed the disposal order that required that Luna, a Siberian husky, be euthanized.
Town officials and those from the Lexus Project appeared in court this morning to discuss the order, given after Luna, a dog with a history of roaming, killed five domestic chickens. Luna has also killed a domestic duck and harassed domestic goats.
Richard Rosenthal, an attorney with the Lexus Project, said he was going to ask the court to determine whether Tolland's disposal order was illegal, according to state statute.
Update, 6 p.m., Aug. 3
The town and the Lexus Project were unable to reach an agreement today in regards to Luna, according to the Lexus Project attorney Richard Rosenthal. Instead, Luna's case will be heard tomorrow morning at Rockville Superior Court.
According to Rosenthal, the Lexus Project will be asking the court to determine if Tolland's disposal order was, in fact, illegal, according to state statute.
Public Safety Supervisor John Littell said that he considers the case to be in the Department of Agriculture commissioner's hands. The town has filed paperwork for a hearing on Luna's case.
Littell said that there is no way the town will euthanize Luna until the hearing is conducted. He said that the results of the hearing will determine what happens to the Siberian husky.
"Our hands are tied," Littell said. "We're not putting the dog down."
Check Tolland Patch tomorrow for coverage of Luna's hearing.
Update, 9:50 a.m., Aug. 3
According to the Lexus Project attorney Richard Rosenthal, the town may reach an agreement regarding Luna as early as this morning. Rosenthal said that the Tolland town attorney is reviewing paperwork that would withdraw the town's disposal order.
If the agreement is signed, Rosenthal said Luna would be turned over to his care. He plans on bringing her to a rescue group in Massachusetts that has expressed an interest in taking care of Luna.
The possible agreement comes right before the first court date in Luna's case, which would take place tomorrow at Rockville Superior Court. Rosenthal said in an interview on Tuesday, that The Lexus Project was going to court to get a restraining order that would bar the town from euthanizing Luna until the case was resolved.
The Lexus Project is a non-profit organization that provides legal services for dogs in need of representation.
Public Safety Supervisor John Littell and Animal Control Officer Tina Binheimer could not be reached by the time of publication.
Tolland residents and dog lovers all over are mobilizing online to debate the case for a local Siberian husky named Luna, whose owner has been issued an order to put Luna down after she killed five chickens belonging to a neighbor.
Luna, who is currently housed in the Tolland Animal Control Shelter, is awaiting a hearing to appeal the disposal order, but animal lovers from near and far have already begun a raging debate about her story on Facebook. The page has attracted 334 “likes.”
“I don’t want to put her down for killing chickens,” Luna’s owner, Tolland resident Paul Doyle, said. Doyle, who has previously owned two other Siberian huskies, said that Luna is the only animal he’s owned that frequently roamed the neighborhood.
Doyle said that it is natural for the breed to hunt birds, and that it is not necessarily a sign that the dog would be aggressive towards people.
“Most dogs will attack fowl like that, particularly huskies,” he said.
However, Tolland Animal Control Officer Tina Binheimer said that this is not Luna’s first offense. Although Luna is only five and a half years old, Binheimer says that the dog has a history of roaming that goes back five years. She said that she has issued citations and tickets for roaming, and that the dog has also harassed goats and killed a domestic duck.
The most recent trouble began when Luna killed a pet chicken in early June. Binheimer says that she issued a restraining order, requiring the dog to be kept in a pen. While Doyle had until June 18 to build a suitable enclosure, he admits that he did not think it would logical to pen her.
“She would go berserk,” Doyle said. “She’s a fairly high-strung dog. I’ve seen her at the pound one time, and she chewed through the spot welding on the bottom of the cage.”
Doyle tried to keep Luna in the house or clip her onto a run line, but she escaped again on June 20 and killed four more chickens at the same home. Binheimer then issued the disposal order, a standard practice after an animal has a history of attacking other pets.
According to Binheimer, she gave Doyle until June 21 to decide if he wanted to put Luna down by bringing her to the vet or have her held at the town shelter. If he decided to put her in the shelter he would be granted 14 days during which he could dispute the disposal order. Doyle initially agreed to put Luna down, bringing her to the veterinarian on June 20.
“He knew that there was a problem,” Public Safety Supervisor John Littell said.
Yet, Doyle changed his mind after talking to the veterinarian and decided to appeal the decision on June 21. Luna was then put under the town’s protection, where she is being taken care of at the animal shelter.
Regarding claims that the town is acting unfairly towards Luna, Littell said that the town has followed proper procedure to the letter, and for good reason.
“From a liability standpoint, we’ve always followed standard process,” Littell said.
He added that if Luna were to be released without a hearing and went on to attack another animal or possibly a person, the town would be held liable. He also explained that if Luna were released through a loophole, then other owners would feel mistreated if their pets were not afforded the same leniency.
“Tina has handled this case excellently,” Littell said. He and two animal control officers from the state Department of Agriculture have reviewed every aspect of the case and declared that procedure has been properly followed.
There will be no decisions regarding Luna’s case until a commissioner from the Department of Agriculture schedules a hearing for the case and makes a ruling.
“The dog will have a fair chance,” Littell said. “The commissioner is going to make a fair judgment.” He added that it is possible that the commissioner will remove the disposal order, but keep Luna under a restraining order.
The hearing will be held in late August or September at the earliest, according to Littell.
Binheimer stressed that the town has little history of putting dogs down. She said that the town has a 95 percent adoption rate and only puts down one to two dogs a year, either due to violent behavior or extreme illness.
Tolland resident Dan Heald, owner of the slain chickens, said that he is frustrated that some residents do not consider his lost birds as “real pets.”
“These are chickens that my kids take care of,” he said. “They’re pets to them.”
Heald added that his 4-year-old son witnessed the first attack. In fact, Heald was close to killing Luna himself during the attack, which he was legally allowed to do.
“After the first attack, the dog did become aggressive with me,” he said. He said he decided not to shoot the animal because he would feel badly.
Heald said that he supports placing the dog in a rescue shelter or keeping it penned to prevent more attacks. He does not want the dog placed near Tolland in case it escapes again.
“I’ve brought the dog back in the middle of the day numerous times,” he said, adding that the dog has become a nuisance.
A cursory glance at the Facebook page for Luna shows that her story brings up passionate responses from many. Carol Benway, owner of the Hidden Acres boarding kennel on Plains Road, close to Doyle’s home, has already offered to take Luna in, but was declined.
“It’s so unjust. It’s ridiculous. They’ve made a mountain out of a molehill,” Benway said, echoing the sentiments of many people commenting online. Benway said that she and her daughter decided to start the Facebook page together.
Littell asks those concerned for Luna to remember that town employees are required to fulfill their responsibilities and are simply doing their jobs.
“We can’t let our feeling get in the way of our jobs,” he said. “People should believe that we’ve done everything that we can.”
Opinions on Luna’s story can be found on the Facebook page, ‘Save Luna from the Tolland CT Dog Pound.'