Postman Leah Rowland checks out in front of the Animal Control Commission on Wednesday. She was attacked by two dogs on July 31 while delivering mail on Ridgeway Avenue.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. – The Animal Control Commission voted Wednesday to euthanize one dog and place various restrictions on another in response to a recent attack on a pregnant postal worker.
At around 3:45 p.m. on July 31, the postman Leah Rowland was bitten several times by Fudge and Maggie while driving after they pushed open the screen door of their home on Ridgeway Avenue.
“I’ve been a mail carrier for almost seven years, I’ve worked in three different stations, I’ve switched twice, I know the risks of the job, we have preventive measures to help in such cases,” said Rowland.
“You hear about it, you know it can happen, you just hope it never happens to you, and usually when you hear about a dog incident, it’s a dog, a bite, once, and I really wish something would be the case in this direction, but it was not. “
Rowland was knocked to the ground and bitten several times on the arms, legs, hips, torso and back until Police Lt. Thomas Dawley, who lives down the street, heard the commotion and came to the crime scene.
Dawley reportedly tried to get Rowland away from the dogs with a bear hug and was bitten in the process. Rowland reported that she was on Ridgeway Avenue at 3:45 p.m. to deliver mail and was in an ambulance at 4 p.m.
Maggie, an 8 year old female, and Fudge, a 2 year old male, are both pit bull mixes.
They live at 180 Ridgeway Ave. with owner Dai Ingalls, who adopted Maggie from the Eleanor Sonsini Animal Shelter seven years ago and left Fudge behind when she separated from a previous partner.
After more than an hour of emotional testimony, the commission voted to impose restrictions on Maggie, including registering as a dangerous dog, restraint, being restricted to the grounds, setting up a fenced-off area in Ingalls’ backyard, and muzzle when she’s off Characteristic.
They voted to put Fudge to sleep.
There was a motion on the table to euthanize both dogs made by District Councilor Kevin Morandi, but it was decided that Maggie, even though she was involved in the attack, had less responsibility than Fudge.
Fudge is an intact man and was believed to be the instigator of the incident in order to protect his home.
Even as a postal worker trained to face animals, Rowland said the incident was brutal.
“When I reached for the dog spray, one of the dogs, I don’t know exactly which one, grabbed my right arm and pulled my left arm to the left, I tried to get it off with my bag because my arm was already in the bag, but that opened my hip so the other dog could bite. And at some point the dog let go and got my left leg and that brought me to the ground, “she said.
“At that point I started screaming for help because I was down with two big dogs, I weigh 120 pounds and we had just found out we were going to have a baby on Tuesday, so I’m about seven at this point. ” Weeks pregnant so my initial instinct was to protect my upper body and neck so I’m lying on the floor with my arm covering my face but trying to scream for help. “
Rowland said she suffered both physical and mental injuries from the incident and has been unemployed since then. She reported mental disorders such as insomnia and medical care after the attack.
“I love my job, I love my way, I love dogs, it’s just hard, I wish I could say what I think should happen because dogs become part of your family, they do, I lay down every year my dogs and my Christmas cards on, “she added.
“But that can’t happen to anyone else. There are so many kids in this neighborhood, older people just walking around.”
Since the dogs had no vaccination documents, they had to be vaccinated against rabies and given antibiotics. At the meeting, her arm was bandaged for bite marks and she is reported to have physiotherapy for arm and leg problems.
Ingalls, who attended the hearing, was shocked by the incident and said the dogs never displayed aggressive behavior. She reported having friends and family on a regular basis with no problem.
“I’ve had Maggie for seven years and Fudge is now 2 years old, they have been with a lot of different people and animals and they have never bitten anyone or shown aggression,” she said. “I feel terrible that this happened.”
Her daughter, who lives in the house with Maggie and Fudge, confirmed this at the hearing.
Dawley sent a letter to the commission asking that the commission not vote to euthanize the dogs, citing their non-existent records.
“I do not want these dogs to be killed for this individual case,” he wrote.
“As far as I know, there have been no reports of these two dogs attacking humans, maybe the dogs should be moved to another environment where they can run and not interact with the community, training, fences and a safety plan that is me. I am myself.” Dog owners and could easily get into a similar situation as animals are unpredictable and we never know why they do what they do or why they behave like that in certain situations. “
Postmaster Stefanie Curry attended the meeting to support Rowland. She confirmed that as a result of this incident, the U.S. Postal Service changed the delivery order on Ridgeway, so the carriers keep their vehicles near Ingalls’ house to make it easier.
“I keep hearing a lot about these dogs not being aggressive, they have never been aggressive, well, they were aggressive and that’s my main concern,” she said.
“Once aggressive, they will always be aggressive to us, and depending on your decision today, the post office will depend on the delivery method for the rest of this street because I have to protect the deliverers.”
Curry added that she doesn’t know if Rowland will ever be a carrier again because of trauma and because she is struggling with the attack’s use of her left hand.
In their decision-making, the commissioners realized that this was an isolated incident, but were concerned about the seriousness of the incident.
“The factors our two dogs have that have never done this before, there is no history, we had no other neighbors complaining about the dogs until this happened,” said chairman Dr. John C. Reynolds.
“Often times we have a history, we have no history in this case, we have a pet owner who is responsive, a responsible pet owner, is concerned, has kept her in the house, has … the neighborhood, you know, we see that and yet the dogs did this terrible thing. ”
Morandi pointed out the gravity of this situation when it happened to a trained worker and expressed concern about the outcome if it had been someone else.
“This was a trained person who did everything right, trained and did everything he was supposed to do and still got attacked and the one thing that kept coming to my mind tonight was what happens when Lt. Dawley wasn’t there? ” He said.
“I know this area very well as a local council and there are a lot of children in this area, there are a lot of families that are residential and there are a lot of people who walk dogs, walk themselves and want this area, and me never want to experience that again or have a chance. “
Both Rowland and Ingalls burst into tears at testifying and allowed supporters to attend the meeting. Ingalls will have the opportunity to appeal the Commission’s decision.
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