I am reopening this petition because the town of Reading, Massachusetts is now saying that we have to waive our rights to appeal in order to get them to vote for permanent restraint. The Swansons' attended the meeting on March 15, 2010 where the committee voted to have the doberman, Atticus Swanson, deemed vicious and to put him under permanent restraint. The town of Reading is choosing the method of blackmail by trying to make the Swansons appeal their rights or they will still consider banishment or "destruction", and those definitions are below. Please continue to try and help our dog. He is still in danger because the town of Reading refuses to play fair.
Right now, there is a young Doberman Pinscher named Atticus fighting for his life.
Atticus, a current canine resident of the town of Reading, Massachusetts, was involved in an unfortunate incident on Friday, February 10, 2012 and is now in danger of being named a "vicious" dog and could potentially lose his life.
There has never before been a legal incident regarding Atticus and Animal Control. Now they want to make a giant leap between Atticus not having a record and naming him "vicious," potentially destroying him.
We would like to state that the male Doberman Pinscher, Atticus (4 years old), owned by Lisa Swanson, is not and has never been a vicious dog. An unfortunate accident happened on February 10, 2012 in which Atticus got out the house and bit a woman who was crossing the street outside of the Swansons' property. This occured when one of his owners, Amanda Swanson, had accidentally left the front door open and was outside in the driveway. He got to the woman, bit her and retreated, however when he saw Amanda looking nervous and shouting "Oh my God," he went back and jumped at her again. When he was jumping up Amanda had reached him and corrected the behavior and he immediately listened.
Atticus, being a Doberman, is a protective dog, and while Amanda Swanson was outside at the time, he viewed this as protecting her from the woman. Unfortunately, dogs do not reason like humans and understand property lines in the same way. While the owners regret the accident, it was not a vicious attack. As soon as Amanda realized what was happening, she rushed to get the dog and quickly got a hold of his collar and got him under control immediately. As soon as Atticus' master corrected him, he ceased attempting to jump up on the woman.
The injuries sustained by the woman include scratches from Atticus' nais when he jumped, a bite mark on her arm, and bruising which is common of a dog bite. The injuries indicate that the bites were NOT of a vicious nature (where the dog would have maintained oral contact) because the breaking of the skin was limited only to the exact puncture mark of the dog's tooth.
On Monday, February 13th, Ron Burns, Animal Control Officer for Reading, Massachusetts, visited the residence of the Swansons and the dog Atticus. He informed Mr. Stephen Swanson that he was not worried about the situation and that he was issuing 10 days of quarantine for Atticus as a minimum consequence because the dog did not have a record with the town, and Animal Control had never before had to visit the Swanson residence due to Atticus' behavior (or at all, for that matter). Again, in Atticus' four and a half years of life and living in the same neighborhood, there has never been an issue for which Animal Control has had to be called.
During Atticus' four and a half years of life, many people have visited and stayed over at the Swansons' residence and will be writing letters of reference as to the dogs' character and distinctly NON-vicious nature. The Swansons have always taken precautions to be responsible dog owners, including putting Atticus in training classes and day camps at K-9 Top Performance in Reading, MA as well as Fortunate K9 in New Hampshire, where they worked extensively with Atticus on obedience training as well as socialization with other dogs.
Atticus is a fun and loving dog. He is an excellent family companion to his four human household members, his favorite activities including cuddling (both with the household members and their household guests). Even as I sit here now, writing this, Atticus is next to me, his head calmly resting on my lap while he watches me type. There is now a motion to get Atticus deemed a vicious dog. If Atticus is deemed vicious in a hearing in the town of Reading, the consequences will be far too severe a punishment for what actually happened. The town will either order him:
- Permanently Restrained: This means that Atticus will no longer be allowed to leave the property unless consistently leashed and muzzled. Even ON the property, if Atticus were to be outside, he would not be able to run, play, and expend any sort of energy, as he would have to be in a kennel-like structure with a covered top. This means that not even the Swansons' fully fenced-in yard will be available to him and will severely affect his quality of life.
- Banished: This would mean that Atticus would no longer be able to live in the town. As moving is not a viable option for the Swansons in this economy, this means that Atticus would be permanently separated from the family he loves, and the Swanson family would permanently lose their canine companion.
- "Destroyed": Unfortunately, this one speaks for itself. The use of the term "destroyed" does not even begin to take into consideration the fact that Atticus (and all dogs) is a sentient being with a range of emotions that would rival any human counterpart. The idea that a dog could be murdered in the prime of his life for a non-vicious attack (where a human who caused the same injury to another human would not even have to consider capital punishment) is unforgivable.
Atticus is not only fighting to maintain his standing in the town of Reading, Massachusetss; he is fighting for his life.
Please help us fight for this dog, who does not have a voice of his own and merely thought he was doing the right thing by protecting his master and her property.
Please sign below if you are willing to fight for Atticus' life and the quality with which he lives it.