WATERVILLE — Area police chiefs attended a board meeting Thursday evening at the Humane Society Waterville Area because they were concerned about the shelter’s involvement in recent court cases involving dangerous dogs.
Winslow police Chief Shawn O’Leary, Oakland police Chief Michael Tracy, and Waterville police Chief Joseph Massey and Deputy Chief Bill Bonney all attended the meeting at 5:30 p.m. While the meeting was open to the public, the board went into executive session to talk with the police, as it concerned legal matters.
Upon exiting the meeting, the police all said they felt it was a positive and productive meeting.
Before the meeting, O’Leary was concerned about some of the things that had happened in recent high-profile cases, he said.
“We pay them for a service, and they are interfering with our court cases,” he said beforehand, adding later, “We want to know where they’re coming from.”
All three municipalities give some funding to the shelter, though the Humane Society is a charitable organization that subsists on donations.
When a dog is deemed dangerous by a court, it sometimes is quarantined in the shelter, particularly if it is a repeat incident. In some cases, a judge will order the dog euthanized.
The police were in the meeting for about 45 minutes and spoke with the Morning Sentinel afterward. All of them said that it went well and was “very productive.”
“We hope to have a continued, positive relationship with them,” O’Leary said.
Lisa Smith, director of the Humane Society Waterville Area, said in a statement after the meeting that she thought the discussion “was very productive and cordial, and questions and misconceptions were pro-actively addressed, as well as clarifying communication channels.”
“The result was a mutual respect for each other’s roles in community safety, and the well being of peoples’ pets,” Smith said in the statement. “Together we will work toward responsible pet ownership in the towns we serve, and be proactive in offering resources to get ahead of problematic situations before an incident occurs.”
Two high-profile cases prompted the police to discuss the issues with the shelter to find a resolution. One was a Winslow case in which two pit bulls attacked a woman and killed her dog, and the other was the Waterville case of Dakota the dog, who has killed one dog and attacked another. All three attacking dogs have been ordered euthanized by the court, but the owners in both cases have filed appeals.
In the case of Dakota, the shelter gave the husky for adoption to a woman after, they say, they had permission from the animal control officer. The officer denies that claim, however.
Smith also wrote a letter to the Kennebec County district attorney about Dakota’s behavior in the shelter. A member of the shelter board sent that letter to Gov. Paul LePage, which prompted him to grant the dog a “full and free” pardon.
Massey said they did discuss the Dakota case and they “were able to resolve all of the issues.”
“It went very well,” Massey said of the meeting. “We clarified issues about their services. Everyone is satisfied with what happened.”
O’Leary said staff members have testified to the detriment of cases before in court.
After the meeting though, he said the staff members had misinterpreted the case because they weren’t trained to speak in court.
Tracy said before the meeting that he was planning to attend as “kind of the third wheel.”
While Tracy said he doesn’t know of any Oakland case that the shelter has been involved in, he decided to go because Oakland shares the service with the two other communities.
He was also satisfied with the discussion.
Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239