A dog that killed a 7-year-old boy Saturday in Corinna had been in the care of property owner Gary Merchant Jr. for about two months but belonged to his daughter, according to the town’s animal control officer.

Animal Control Officer Charles Gould said Thursday that he had never dealt with the dog, Dakota, before the attack. The adult male pit bull was euthanized at Merchant’s request.

The Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate the attack, which took place around 5:15 p.m. Saturday at Merchant’s home on Moody’s Mills Road in Corinna. Hunter Bragg, 7, of Bangor, was killed by the dog while playing in the yard with two other children, Penobscot County Sheriff Troy Morton said. The boy’s family earlier this week pleaded for privacy as they grappled with the tragedy.

Morton on Thursday would not comment on reports that the dog recently had been returned to Merchant after he had owned it previously. Morton also would not comment on who else owned the dog. He said, however, the dog’s history is an important part of the investigation.

“I think knowing where the dog lived and where it had been and its history, those are probably key factors,” Morton said. “We do have some of those answers, but we’re not prepared to release them.”

Gould said he and Morton were scheduled to meet to talk about the case Thursday, but he wasn’t sure what would be discussed at the meeting. Neither he nor Morton responded to calls later Thursday afternoon.


Morton estimated it will be several weeks before his office will release more information, and it depends on Hunter Bragg’s autopsy results from the Office of Chief Medical Examiner and a veterinarian’s report on the dog.

A bite report by the animal control officer, which is standard when a dog attacks a person, has been completed, Gould said. It was not immediately available Thursday.

The report includes the name, age and breed of the dog; the name of the victim; and a summary of the attack, along with other information such as whether the dog was up to date on shots and who its veterinarian was, Gould said.

Dakota, about a year and a half old, had belonged to Merchant’s daughter, who lives in Vermont, according to Gould. The dog was under the care of Merchant in Corinna for the past two months, according to Gould.

Morton would not say Thursday whether the dog was neutered, and Gould didn’t know. Corinna Town Manager Serena Bemis-Goodall told the Morning Sentinel on Monday that the dog was not registered with the town.

According to town records, Merchant has seven other dogs on the property. Authorities are looking into whether there are concerns related to the other dogs Merchant owns, but Morton would not provide details.


“Those issues are being addressed,” he said. “This is a big investigation. It takes a long time. Those are pieces of it that will be reviewed to see if any or no action needs to be taken.”

Gould was sent to the 207 Moody’s Mills Road property last year to deal with a noise complaint related to the dogs. He also found that several of them were not registered, but Merchant addressed the problem shortly after it was brought up, according to Bemis-Goodall.

Gould said Thursday that he has never been called to the residence for a report of aggression or a behavior concern for any of the Merchant’s dogs, including the one involved in the attack.

He said he spoke to Merchant recently about one other dog that appeared too skinny, but other than that said he has had no cause for concern regarding the other dogs.

“Last time I was there, everything was fine,” Gould said. “They’re all licensed. They’re up to date on rabies.”

Hunter Bragg was a student at Downeast Community School in Bangor. The boy’s father, Jason Bragg, was at the Moody’s Mills Road home Saturday when the attack took place. The boy’s mother, Jessica McClure, died in 2012 at the age of 27, according to an obituary in the Bangor Daily News.


In a statement to the Morning Sentinel this week, Betsy Webb, the superintendent of the Bangor school district, said that Hunter was “a happy, well-mannered student and his contagious smile brought joy to all.”

She said the Bangor school community was saddened by his loss and offered condolences to his family and friends.

“He was kind, respectful, and often was seen skipping down the hallways,” Webb said. “Hunter enjoyed reading, writing, and his teacher describes him as a hard worker with a mathematical mind.”

She said counseling and support was being provided to the school’s students and staff, and she encouraged parents with questions about how best to discuss the situation with their children to call the school principal or counselor.

Relatives of Hunter Bragg on Monday set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for the boy’s funeral expenses. As of Thursday evening, nearly $7,000 of a $10,000 goal had been raised, according to the page.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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