The case against an Oxford woman accused of not cooperating with authorities after her dogs allegedly attacked and killed another dog at this summer has still not been resolved.
(pronounced kotch) was scheduled to learn Thursday whether she would be granted entry into the state Judicial Branch’s accelerated rehabilitation program, a special form of probation for first-time offenders who can see their record wiped clean if they stay out of trouble for a specified amount of time.
However, Tkacz case was instead pushed to Feb. 9 at Derby Superior Court.
Tkacz’s four Newfoundland dogs killed Roxi, an 11-year-old Labrador mix at Jackson Cove Park on July 26. Three days later, Tkacz was charged with obstructing the duty of an animal control officer, failure to obey a quarantine order, four counts of allowing dogs to roam and four counts of animal nuisance. All are misdemeanor charges.
Details of the attack - and her alleged lack of cooperation with police and state animal control - have been hotly disputed by her attorney, Ralph Crozier.
At least two parties do not want Tkacz to be allowed into the accelerated rehabilitation program -- the Severson family who owned Roxi and state Animal Control Officer Barbara Godejohn, who investigated the case and obtained a warrant for Tkacz's arrest. Godejohn was expected to object to the AR application in court on Thursday until the case was continued.
'He Deserves to Be Compensated'
Crozier said several of the attorneys involved in the case - including Oxford Town Counsel Kevin Condon and Severson family attorney Karen Fisher - met privately at Superior Court and agreed to continue the case against Tkacz for another month.
Crozier is trying to get Tkacz's insurance company to pay Patrick Severson, an Oxford teenager who owned Roxi and was bitten by one of Tkacz's dogs as he attempted to stop the Newfoundlands from pummeling his own, Oxford officials say.
"He deserves to be compensated for what happened," Crozier said.
If and when Tkacz's insurance company pays Severson, Crozier said he thinks the family will drop its opposition to the AR application.
Patrticia Severson, Patrick’s mother, declined to comment and referred all questions to her attorney, who did not returned a message left Thursday.
The dog fight has spawned a number of criminal and civil court cases.
- Tkacz is charged in separate cases with two counts of allowing a dog to roam. Crozier said the town reviewed old videos and claimed that the Newfoundlands were off their leashes prior to the Jackson Cove mauling.
- The Severson family sued Tkacz in August, asking for at least $15,000 for medical bills, veterinary bills and emotional distress. Crozier has asked a judge to add the Town of Oxford and Tkacz’s home insurance agent as additional defendants to the lawsuit. That case is pending.
- Tkacz has a civil injunction filed in Superior Court in Milford. Crozier said the injunction also compels Oxford to take better care of the two Newfoundlands the town still has in its possession.
- The state Department of Agriculture’s animal control division is reviewing the case as well.
Owner Wants Dogs Back
Crozier said he is hopeful to hash out an agreement with Oxford officials that will see the two Newfoundlands under quarantine returned to Tkacz.
The town has spent a substantial amount of money to house the two animals, which are in the town's possession are not the ones who killed the Labrador, Crozier said. Those dogs were sold immediately after the incident, he said.
"Vicki just wants her dogs back,” Crozier said outside the courtroom on Thursday. “They've been incarcerated since July. She is sorry that Roxi was hurt.”
The issue, which has been a hot topic in the local media and in discussions around town, was brought up at the Oxford Board of Selectmen meeting on Thursday.
First Selectman George Temple said the town has incurred about $5,400 in kennel fees to take care of the dogs while they are under quarantine.
“I see no reason why the town should pay those fees,” he said at the meeting. “And if we have to fight it, we’re certainly going to fight it."
Waiting to Hear on Disposal Order
Oxford Animal Control Officer Sandra Merry said the case is currently out of the hands of local animal control and is being overseen by the state Department of Agriculture.
“Right now, we’re waiting for the state to give us a date for the disposal of the animals,” she said.
Still, plans are being made to determine what happens with the dogs if the disposal order is overturned. If that happens, Merry said, then Tkacz would be ordered to pay the $5,400 in fees and would have to put locator chips on the dogs to assure their location is known at all times. She would also have to put muzzles on the dogs when walking them back and forth from their kennels. The locator chips and the muzzles would have to be approved by animal control before Tkacz could use them, Merry said.
On top of those criteria, Tkacz would not be allowed to bring the dogs on any streets or any other public places in Oxford, Merry said. And Tkacz would have to set up a timeframe to have the dogs moved out of state.
“At this point, we’re all just waiting to see what happens when we go to court in February,” she said. (Crozier said his client is willing to muzzle the dogs, have chips
implanted and not allow them on town property, including streets.)
Merry said the dogs have been moved from an undisclosed location that charged the $5,400 fee. They are currently staying at another undisclosed location where the people taking care of the dogs are doing so as a favor to Oxford and will not charge the town, Merry said.
In the time that the dogs have been under quarantine, they have not been vicious, Merry said.
“The main problem with these dogs is if someone is walking another dog near them,” she said. “And the worry is that they get loose and they see a person with a dog; these dogs have a pack mentality, and we don’t really know what is going to happen.”
- This article was written by Valley Independent Sentinel Editor Eugene Driscoll and Oxford Patch Editor Paul Singley.