Family fights to free dog from death-row

A family is fighting to free their dog that is on death row (Submitted)

A Guilford family is fighting to get their dog back after they say he bit a boy who was trespassing on their property.

Now they’re up against a clock as the dog named “Simon” has been given a death sentence by town officials.

“It’s unfair, very unfair. Simon is thinking what am I doing here,” said Dr. David Young, who was visiting his dog at the Guilford Animal Shelter.

Simon was sentenced to be euthanized by September.

The dog was adopted by the family seven years ago.

They took him into their home on Oxbow Lane where they’ve lived since 2003 and raised four kids.

“I think he was about a year old when we got him,” Young said.

In early August of last year, the Young’s went away leaving the dog behind.

“We were on vacation and Simon was being watched by his longtime sitter and they were playing out in the yard, when a neighbor came into the yard carrying a lacrosse stick,” Young said.

That neighbor was a 12-year-old boy; one of five boys who live next door.

The boy told police his lacrosse ball went into Young’s yard and he had gone to retrieve it.

There’s a below ground electric fence for the dog and the property is partially fenced.

“Simon went after him to warn him off but Simon never left our yard. He bit him in the shoe and warned the kid but the kid raised the stick in defiance instead of running so Simon bit him in the leg, then the kid ran,” Young said.

The boy got 11 stitches to his thigh and two to his ankle, and still needs more surgery according to the family’s attorney.

“The police were called, the dog warden came, they took Simon for quarantine,” Young said.

Simon was supposed to only be gone 14 days.

“We were reassured by the animal control officer and police that Simon did nothing wrong because he was in his own yard,” Young said.

The animal control officer said a public meeting was held with the chief of police, first selectman at the time, state animal control officer, and several residents who expressed their fears about the dog and the liability of returning it to the neighborhood.

There had been one reported complaint about Simon involving another dog earlier in the year.

Soon after the meeting, “it was decided to put a kill order on Simon so my wife and I were blindsided with that,” Young said.

The neighbors next door didn’t have a comment, but their lawyer said this is a boy who went over to the Young’s house in the past to play with their son and had been around the dog.

“They would throw sticks and rocks at him occasionally,” Young said.

The neighbors said they aren’t the ones who said the dog should be put down.

“Never had any issues with him. He protects our house and protects our yard, like anybody would want their dog to do,” Young said.

Now the Young family has been fighting this tooth and nail, hiring an attorney, appealing to the town to overturn this death sentence, gaining over 8,000 signatures in support of them, but so far there’s been no meeting or hearing that’s been scheduled.

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