GARDINER — Cynthia Roodman has just one request: Keep your dog on a leash.

That simple act would protect both people and dogs, Roodman said.

It’s the law.

“Can you care enough about me to keep your dog on a leash?” she said.

Sitting in the A1 Diner in Gardiner Sunday morning with her husband Francois Roodman, Cynthia Roodman said the two dogs that attacked her in the Arcade parking lot in mid-July didn’t have to die.

The fate of those two dogs, MeMe, a black boxer mix, and Sukie, a brindle boxer, was determined Thursday at a hearing in Augusta District Court, after Judge Thomas Nale heard testimony from Roodman and from Gardiner resident Jeannine L’Heureux, who said her small dog had been attacked by MeMe.

He also heard testimony from Heather Brown, Gardiner’s animal control officer, and from Anna Henderson, the dog behavior specialist at the Kennebec Valley Humane Society, describing the aggressive behavior they witnessed in both dogs.

As a result of the attack, Roodman had nine staples in her head, 16 stitches in her ear and seven stitches in her arm. More than two months after the attack, the muscle of her upper left arm remains swollen.

Nale also ordered $1,782.26 in restitution to be paid to Roodman. That will cover what she’s paid out of pocket for her medical care since the attack but her medical treatment, which included rabies shots, isn’t done.

In all, she has paid out more than $6,000, while the dogs’ owner has been fined only $500, on two counts of keeping a dangerous dog.

Steven Griatzky, the owner of the dogs, was not in court Thursday, and he failed to appear at a hearing in August at which the dogs were deemed to be dangerous.

A day before Thursday’s hearing, Gardiner elected officials started the process of tightening up the city’s dog control rules by requiring that all dogs be on a leash that’s no longer than 6 feet.

That move was prompted by city residents, including L’Heureux, who came to a City Council meeting in August to register their complaints about dogs running at large at Waterfront Park. One of them had also witnessed the attack on Roodman.

City officials were offered two options — the city-wide leash requirement, or requiring dogs to be on leashes only when they are in parks or public places.

District 2 City Councilor Pat Hart said she was asked to make sure the leash requirement was in place for the city’s neighborhoods as well.

“When we had our last discussion, I had four different people call me saying they were bitten in their front yard by someone else’s dog,” she said. “They were on leashes, but they were really long leashes.”

Gardiner resident Barbara Jenner told the City Council Wednesday that she was attacked by two dogs in 2017 while she was walking in her neighborhood, and those dogs continue to run at large.

“Nothing was done, no fines, no nothing, and I am still fighting to get my medical bills paid,” she said.

The City Council chose the city-wide restriction.

Two public hearings have been set, for the Oct. 3 and the Oct. 17 City Council meetings.

“This is a very important step and a long time coming,” Gardiner Mayor Thom Harnett said, noting that Gardiner’s Parks and Recreation Committee has fielded complaints from dog owners whose dogs have been assaulted by dogs running at large.

“I have a grave concern for not only the dogs themselves, but also for the young people who use the parks,” Harnett said. “We knew we needed to do something. That was driven home in a horrific way on July 16th, when one of our residents was viciously attacked by dogs just off Water Street in the Arcade parking lot, requiring hospitalization, and will require plastic surgery. That’s totally unacceptable from a public safety viewpoint.”

He said he was troubled to learn the owner of the dog left, and was stunned to find no state law makes that illegal.

“It’s an issue that needs to be addressed locally, but it also needs to be addressed statewide,” he said.

Roodman said she plans to move ahead with her plan to seek more serious penalties in state law for the owners of dangerous dogs in Maine, including larger fines imposed on the owners of dangerous dogs and criminal penalties for leaving the scene of a dog attack.

“That shows indifference to human life,” said Francois Roodman, who is Augusta’s former animal control officer.

The attack on Cynthia Roodman happened on a public right of way, and that could have resulted in additional charges.

More fines would help, Francois Roodman said, as would more education.

“I can’t afford the fines for speeding in my car,” Cynthia Roodman said, “so I don’t speed.”

That same logic might prevent future attacks, she said.

“We can save dogs’ lives with stricter rules,” she said.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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