Dog Attacks Concern Borough Residents

Chief Financial Officer Robert Kalafut presents 2014 checklist at Wednesday's Borough Council meeting. Credits: Liz Keill

MADISON, NJ - Two dog attacks since early September have many borough residents concerned, especially since one of the attacks occurred near a school.

Borough Attorney Michael Giacobbe said Wednesday night that the borough had limited actions available to pursue. Two summonses have been issued and the matter will go to municipal court on Oct. 29.

“This is governed by state statutes,” Giacobbe said, “and presented by the state.”  The dog has been quarantined but has not been impounded. The Board of Health was notified, as well as the location in Bedford, Mass. where the dog was licensed and had had shots. Giacobbe said he could not comment on specifics but that “the town takes the matter seriously.”

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Several residents addressed the issue. One person said his wife had been attacked on Sept. 9 and another incident occurred on Oct. 1 near St. Vincent’s school. He asked if the animal control officer reports to anyone in the room.   According to Giacobbe, Madison has a contract with Millburn for an animal control officer.

The resident said he was told that to be impounded, the court must wait for the dog to attack again. The attorney explained that the dog’s owner has the right to make a presentation and that the law balances the interest of the dog owner with the danger to others.  “The decision will be determined by the judge,” he said. Steps can be taken, such as muzzles or other restrictions.”It’s out of our bailiwick,” he said.

Another resident said it would be common sense to make the town safer. Children who go to St. Vincent’s are fearful, she said. “They’re afraid to walk by the house. If nothing is done, another attack will occur. Once a dog bites, it will bite again. I’m calling on the mayor and council to look for other measures.”

Mayor Robert Conley said the council would discuss other steps.

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