Owner charged after abandoning dog in Deerfield

  • Tigger was abandoned in nearly 100-degree heat near Hillside Road in Deerfield. He was eventually caught by a volunteer of the Franklin County Regional Dog Shelter. The dog is now back to a normal healthy weight and has been deemed adoptable. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 9/19/2018 3:29:34 PM

DEERFIELD – A dog that police say was abandoned in nearly 100-degree heat last month has been nursed back to health and deemed by the Franklin County Regional Dog Shelter as adoptable.

Tigger, the name the shelter assigned to the male pitbull mix, was starving, covered with fleas and had scratched off nearly all the fur and skin on his rear end when he was caught on Hillside Road by dog shelter volunteer Kianna Smith on Aug. 9.

The canine has been in the dog shelter’s care since and has seen multiple veterinarians. Before Smith managed it, Deerfield Police Officers Adam Sokoloski and Brian Ravish and Chief John Paciorek Jr. had made unsuccessful attempts to catch the dog.

The investigation into what happened to Tigger before being found in Deerfield was assigned to Sokoloski, resulting in one felony count of animal cruelty being filed against 18-year-old Timothy M. Rivers, who pleaded innocent at his Sept. 13 arraignment in Greenfield District Court. He was released on personal recognizance. Rivers has three addresses listed in court documents. Sokoloski’s narrative reported it as 9 Greenfield Road (the Red Roof Inn) in South Deerfield, while the court docket lists it as 196 Federal St. in Greenfield, and dog shelter Director Leslee Colucci reported it as 50B Oaklawn Road in Orange.

Rivers had no comment when contacted by The Recorder. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in state prison, or 2½ years in the Franklin County Jail and House of Correction, or a $5,000 fine, or both imprisonment and a fine.

Tigger will remain at the Franklin Regional Dog Shelter while Rivers’ case is pending. He was diagnosed with and treated for severe mange, severe intestinal worms and other conditions. Sokoloski said he hopes Tigger will be adopted after the court process is finished.

Donations to help cover Tigger’s veterinary bills will be accepted by check, made payable to “Friends of FCSO Dog Shelter.” They can be mailed to Franklin County Regional Dog Shelter at 10 Sandy Lane, Turners Fall, MA 01376.

According to Sokoloski’s narrative, it was obvious the dog was “malnourished and had major skin issues.” Sokoloski could see the animal’s ribs and was “surprised it even had the strength to move.” He learned the dog is a service animal whose extremely sensitive nose enables him to detect when someone’s blood sugar is low. The canine also has a genetic skin condition that causes hair loss.

Twenty-three days after the dog was rescued, Rivers’ mother, Margaret Rivers, visited the Deerfield Police Department and said the animal’s name was Spencer and she wanted to have him returned. The younger Rivers visited the station on Sept. 3 and said the dog got loose near the Rite Aid in Turners Falls and Rivers confirmed he was trying to get rid of the animal because he cannot have dogs at his apartment.

According to Sokoloski, Rivers said the dog was missing “a day or two.” Rivers said the dog has a disorder that makes it difficult to keep on weight, though Smith told Sokoloski he is responding well to proper care and has put on a lot of weight at the shelter.

According to Sokoloski, it is unreasonable to expect the dog would have gotten from Turners Falls to Deerfield without anyone calling the police. He said he contacted the Montague Police Department and from Aug. 7 to Aug. 9 there were no logged calls regarding a loose dog. By contrast, the Deerfield Police Department documented seven calls in 20 minutes while people were attempting to catch the dog in their town.

According to Colucci, Tigger slept most of each day from Aug. 9 through Aug. 13. By Aug. 15, he weighed 52 pounds, with the optimal weight being 62 to 65 pounds. He was overdue for all his vaccines.

A pre-trial conference for Timothy Rivers is scheduled for Oct. 25.

Reach Domenic Poli at dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.




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