Fair lawn – Two escaped dogs allegedly attacked a resident and his dog while on a walk earlier this month, leaving the resident injured and his dog dead. The borough is holding the accused dogs for public safety reasons, while the dogs’ owner is fighting for their release.
The incident occurred on Jan. 3, when Wilson, an 80-pound Boxer, and Cosgrove, a 180-pound Mastiff, escaped from Hope Alexander’s back yard in Fair Lawn after a friend left the gate open.
Police later received a 911 call from a resident reporting two dogs attacked another dog and a pedestrian at the corner of Hedman Place and Stelton Terrace. The pedestrian was later identified as Gary Weiss, a Fair Lawn resident and Yorkie owner. Upon arrival, police found Wilson and Cosgrove circling Weiss and his Yorkie. Both he and his dog sustained injuries. The Yorkie appeared to be in critical condition.
According to a police report, the officers never officially drew their guns, however, one officer unlocked his holster in case the dogs expressed hostility toward them.
After the dogs were subdued, Weiss was taken to Hackensack University Medical Center for treatment. His Yorkie was transported to Valley Brook Animal Hospital, where it died three days later as a result of the injuries.
Weiss could not be reached for comment. Photographs taken from inside the animal hospital revealed the Yorkie was brutally mangled during the alleged incident. The two larger dogs did not have any visible injuries.
Per borough policy Wilson and Cosgrove were quarantined for 10 days at the Fair Lawn pound to undergo testing for rabies. After the dogs pass testing, the borough had the option of either releasing the dogs to the owner or retaining them if they posed danger to the public.
When the 10 day quarantine was set to expire on Jan. 14, Carol Wagner, the borough health department director, reached a settlement for returning Wilson and Cosgrove to Alexander, provided she agreed to various safety requirements, including placing heavy-duty locks on her gates and equipping her dogs with muzzles when they left the property.
But the dogs were not released from the pound because, according to Borough Manager Tom Metzler, Wagner did not have the authority to reach a settlement with Alexander. The agreement could only be made by the mayor and council, who instead wanted a hearing on the incident where a borough judge would determine the fate of the dogs.
“(The council) wants to make sure they follow the letter of the law and that they don’t not end up putting a potential hazard out there for the residents,” Metzler said. “All I know is something triggered that attack, and until we figure out what happened – (why) an animal was ripped apart like that.”
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