Shutesbury Select Board votes unanimously to euthanize dangerous dog

Last modified: Monday, July 21, 2014
SHUTESBURY — A dog that attacked and injured a local couple last month is a danger to the public and should be euthanized, the Select Board ruled Tuesday night.

In a unanimous 3-0 vote, the board decided that the pitbull, owned at the time by Don and Tracy Faulstick, should be euthanized should it ever return to Shutesbury. The Faulsticks returned the animal, originally from a shelter in Georgia, to an adoption agency after the attack, according to a letter they sent to town officials.

The board’s decision came after 40 minutes of hearing from residents who live close to the site of the incident on West Pelham Road, including testimony from the victims of the attack. Mary Jo Maffei said she was on a walk with her husband, Jeff, and their dog, Walter, when the pitbull ran out from behind nearby trees and “viciously attacked” and injured all three of them.

As she spoke, photos of injuries the family sustained were passed out to the board, including pictures of multiple bite wounds to her arm. Other damage included a chipped tooth and a “quarter-size of flesh” ripped apart by the attacking dog, Mary Jo Maffei said.

Shutesbury Police Chief Thomas Harding verified the attack, stating that before Don Faulstick came to the aid of the Maffei family and picked up the dog, the Maffeis were the only witnesses.

The Maffei family said Tuesday that the Faulsticks, who had taken in the dog through a volunteer network, assured them the dog would be euthanized after the attack. The Maffeis found out later that the dog was not euthanized. Instead, the volunteer network tried to find a new home for the dog by posting a listing on its website that indicated the animal had no history of violence, Mary Jo Maffei said.

Harding said the Faulsticks also told police that they would put the dog down. However, after consulting with their attorney, the Faulsticks found a rule in paperwork from the adoption agency indicating they could return the animal, Harding said.

This greatly concerned both Maffei and those living within the vicinity of the attack. Susan Palmer, of 517 West Pelham Road, said her cat had suffered “quarter-sized” bite wounds similar to Maffei’s the week before. She said the town’s animal control officer was slow to respond.

The Faulsticks did not attend Tuesday’s meeting, but Town Administrator Rebecca Torres read part of a letter from the couple. In the letter, Tracy Faulstick said the family disowned the dog and took financial responsibility for the June 2 attack. They also asked that their privacy be respected.

In its order, the board ruled that should the dog return to Shutesbury for whatever reason, it should be contained at all times, muzzled securely and euthanized humanely as soon as possible. The board also agreed to send a letter summarizing its decision to whatever town the dog may go next.