This week, authorities in Mansfield decided to euthanize a pit-bull named Rocco at the Mansfield Animal Shelter, which has stirred controversy both inside and outside of town.
The Mansfield Board of Selectmen stated that they received several letters from concerned parties stating their objections to the dog’s euthanasia and the reasoning for the decision.
According to Mansfield town manager William Ross, he, animal control officer Jeff Collins and Mansfield police chief Arthur O’Neill discussed the matter intently before making a final decision. They all agreed that, for the good of public safety, the dog was to be euthanized.
“This dog would not have been acceptable to a rescue or shelter,” he said. “There are emotions playing on both sides of this."
During the controversy, several Mansfield Animal Shelter volunteers and residents stated that they were under the impression the shelter was a no kill shelter.
“Contrary to what you may have heard… the [Mansfield Animal Shelter] has never said this is a no kill shelter,” he said. “Every volunteer signs an application that states it is not a no kill shelter… Every person who works there was put on notice.”
The main argument against euthanizing the dog was that it had never bitten anyone. According to Ross and several Mansfield Animal Shelter volunteers, the dog had been given up for adoption twice before coming to Mansfield.
Ross said that Collins’ main worry about the dog was during his time in Mansfield, over a year, during three occasions the dog “zeroed in” on groups of small children. The dog was also described as quick to growl and bare its teeth.
Selectman George Dentino said he would have liked, as a member of the highest government authority in the town, to have had the decision made by the selectmen. He said that the result might have been different if more residents were able to get their voice heard.
“I think we went too fast, too hard and didn’t give everybody come in to voice an opinion and maybe send this dog somewhere where he could saved,” he said. “There are places that take these dogs that are non kill that try to train them. I don’t enjoy the fact that there wasn’t enough thought put into this.”
Selectman chair Olivier Kozlowski countered with the fact that, even though in cases of private dog owners an appeals hearing could be enacted, in cases where the town owns said animal, the highest authority in such a case would be the police chief.
“Even if we voted 5-0 [against euthanizing the dog] we would not [legally] be able to direct him in any way,” Kozlowski said.
Several residents, on both sides of the issue, spoke during the meeting.
Norton resident Patricia Reagan said that she believed the issue to be a bias against pit bulls, which she said was now currently against the law.
“Going forward, I would like to suggest some education to the animal,” she said.
Attleboro resident Kim Pentway said she agreed that there was a pit bull bias in the decision.
“One of the first things animal control officer [Jeff Collins] said to me was stay away from that dog,” she said.
Did you think Mansfield officials made the right decision the case of Rocco, a pit bull, being euthanize? Tell us in the comment section.