South Hadley board sets dangerous hearing for dog that killed another

GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

By EMILEE KLEIN

Staff Writer

Published: 07-10-2024 6:16 PM

Modified: 07-11-2024 11:05 AM


SOUTH HADLEY — Edward Wall rushed down Pynchon Street one morning in June to find his little white Maltipoo no longer white.

“I arrived on the scene 20 minutes afterwards and it was just carnage. My wife had blood all over her. My daughter had blood over her. It looked like a deer had been hit,” Wall said. “It was a mess.”

According to police and animal control reports, Stephanie Wall and her 19-year-old daughter, Georgia Wall, were walking their two small dogs, Harper and Scarlett, on June 25 when a brown pit bull mix came bolting down the street and attacked Harper. Stephanie Wall dropped the leashes, allowing the Scarlett to escape home, and attempted to pry Harper away from the other dog, named Boone. She failed, receiving lacerations on her leg and spraining her toe in the process.

Alarmed by the screaming and barking, nearby neighbor Kevin Lumb ran outside with his son, umbrella in hand, to discover the two women horrified and Harper now in Boone’s jaws. He hit Boone with the umbrella, which Boone ignored, then grabbed the dog’s collar and tried to pull him off. Boone was too strong, throwing Lumb to the ground and causing a torn rotator cuff.

Lumb’s son successfully chased Boone back down the street, whacking it with an umbrella until the dog dropped Harper’s body from his mouth, Kevin Lumb told the South Hadley Select Board Tuesday night.

“I asked the owner, when is this going to end?” Lumb said. “He replied, ‘I don’t know what to do with them.’”

According an animal control report about the incident, Boone’s owner, Matthew Jeznah, came outside his home to find Boone and Harper’s dead body and stood there in shock.

The incident is the third time on record that Boone has attacked another dog, prompting Animal Control Officer Steven Mailhott to request a dangerous dog hearing.

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At least 30 people from Pynchon Road, Waite Avenue and Searle Road filed into a room at the Senior Center on Tuesday for a Select Board meeting to hear the board decide the date for the hearing, which will take place on Aug. 5 at 6 p.m. Boone is in quarantine at his home until the hearing.

“My kids normally walk down to their grandparents’ house every morning or ride their bikes and since this incident, they can’t,” Searle Avenue resident Chelsea Beadry told the board. “My daughter, who did not see any of this but heard a dumbed-down version of the story, is having nightmares every night about being attacked by coyotes or our dog being taken away,” she said. “The amount of trauma that we all have felt, and we weren’t even there, is unbelievable.”

Boone has allegedly attacked two other dogs, according to police. Town resident John Sullivan’s dog was bit on the leg by Boone on Aug. 11, 2023 while Boone was out in the yard off leash, and Boone again bit another dog at Buttery Brook Park on Dec. 20, according to police. Neither of these instances came before the Select Board.

“My personal feeling is that if this had been done properly, this dog would be euthanized or on a muzzle whenever outside, then maybe this wouldn’t have happened,” Edward Wall said.

In a report, Mailhott wrote that Boone likely crawled under the fence at his owner’s property and escaped into the street while Jeznah was watching television. Jeznah has since put metal along the fence to reinforce it.

Alice Stalker, who lives at the same residence as Jeznah, runs an Instagram account featuring pit bull mix dogs, Boone and Georgia. The account mostly features photos of the dogs playing, sleeping, training and interacting with Stalker at their home.

Neither Stalker nor Jeznah responded to calls from the Gazette on Wednesday, but Jeznah’s sister Kimberly Jeznah said that Boone is “a total couch potato” and was not aware of the latest dog attack.

Wall said Harper’s death was the first time his three daughters have experienced loss, and the girls are taking the sudden death hard. The most difficult part of the night for Wall was watching his two younger daughters, 14 and 17, react to Harper’s body, which had been rolled up in a blanket. His daughter Georgia, who witnessed the attack, told Wall that she doesn’t want to return to Salem State University in the fall. Wall said the family will be seeking counseling.

“The one good thing is that it’s brought the whole neighborhood together,” Wall said. “People we’ve been walking by for years are saying hi as we walk by and seeing how we are doing. It’s a wonderful thing to see them come out and support us.”