Two Wareham dogs designated “at risk” after hearing

Nov 17, 2020

Two dogs located at 81 Pinehurst Drive in Wareham have been designated “at risk,” following an incident in which a Wareham Department of Natural Resources officer received a minor dog bite that did not require medical attention.

The owner of the dogs, Brandon Muller, was told he would need to meet a number of conditions to ensure the dogs won’t face more severe consequences in the future. Under the “at risk” designation, the dogs must: be secured either indoors or in an outdoor enclosure large enough for two dogs, be walked on a leash by adults at least 18 years of age, be humanely muzzled when away from the home and be microchipped and trained.

The dogs were involved in an altercation with natural resources officer Joshua Kimball near Pinehurst Drive in October. At a hearing to determine the fate of the dogs on Tuesday, Nov. 17, Kimball recommended the dogs be euthanized.

Also at the hearing, Mimi DiMauro testified she and her husband felt trapped in their boat and were unable to come to shore because the two dogs appeared to be behaving aggressively. DiMauro called for help, and Kimball was dispatched to the scene.

Kimball described the dogs as brown/black mutts weighing approximately 45 to 60 pounds and testified that when he tried to walk the dogs home, they followed “with no issues” at first. 

“While walking, suddenly one of the dogs became extremely aggressive and lunged at my left hand. I yelled ‘no’ in the direction of the dog,” Kimball said, adding that he called for backup as the dogs became more agitated. “The dog then lunged again at my left side and I punched the dog in the snout. This made the dog even more aggressive, and the dog ultimately bit my left thigh.”

Kimball said he pulled his pepper spray in case things escalated, but the dogs retreated. The bite did not break the skin or require medical treatment, he said.

After the incident, Muller was cited for loose and unlicensed dogs because there is a leash law in Wareham that requires pets be secured and under control at all times. 

Kimball said he informed Muller that the department had responded to the dogs being loose six times in the past year. Neighbors testified that the dogs had gotten loose on multiple occasions as well.

Muller described Kimball’s account of the incident as “a bit far-fetched,” but he did not dispute it. Instead, he pointed out that, at the time, the dogs were six month old puppies.

Muller said the dogs were well-liked by neighborhood children and others, but he did not have anyone present to testify on behalf of his dogs. He said he understood the concerns about the dogs getting loose on numerous occasions.

“But no one has been physically (hurt) — well, other than Mr. Kimball stating that he was a little aggressive towards the animal,” Muller said. He said dogs displayed “the same aggression back” with “minimal” injury.

Muller said the dogs were family-oriented and still being trained. The dogs are now chipped, supervised with security cameras and secured in a 10 by 10 foot fenced-in enclosure when outside, he added. Muller also cited a letter from a veterinarian, who described the dogs as “friendly, though a little shy” during visits for vaccinations.

“If you are offended or if my dogs have frightened you, I apologize,” Muller said. “I can assure everyone here that I’m going to take every step and guideline that I need to and respect the laws of Massachusetts and the town of Wareham.”

The dogs’ behavior did not reach the level to warrant euthanasia, the Board of Selectmen decided. The board unanimously voted to designate the dogs as “at risk,” which will require Muller to follow strict guidelines for securing and controlling the dogs or risk facing more severe repercussions.

The “at risk” designation will follow the dogs for two years, assuming there are no other incidents.