Dozer's fines unpaid, dog forfeited to town

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MANCHESTER — The long saga of Dozer, the escape artist pit bull terrier, may finally be over in Manchester.

Dozer's owner, Vanessa Roberts, said the family was not able to pay the fines levied by the town to reclaim their 9-year-old dog, which they have owned since he was 6 weeks old.

"I wasn't able to get him back," Roberts said. "We are heartbroken."

Town Manager John O'Keefe confirmed that Dozer was not claimed by the Nov. 8 deadline and Dozer will be rehomed.

"Dozer was not claimed by the family," O'Keefe said. "We are in the process of identifying rescue programs that could accept him."

Dozer was the subject of a Select Board hearing Oct. 29 after being caught running loose by the Manchester Police Department.

It was the 11th time Dozer had been caught at large. He also was not licensed. The dog's owner was cited three times in the past by the Winhall Police Department as well.

The board, following testimony from MPD Chief Patrick Owens and Roberts handed down a fine of $2,000 plus veterinarian and impoundment fees for a total of about $2,800.

Roberts said following the hearing she would be trying to reclaim her dog, but as of the day before the deadline, admitted it was going to be a tall order.

"I'm trying my hardest and praying for a miracle," Roberts wrote in a message. "I'm a single mom of two teenage boys and $2,800 doesn't come easy."

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Once the deadline passed, the dog was forfeited to the town, which will place Dozer with a rescue agency for adoption.

O'Keefe would not say where Dozer would be placed.

It was revealed during the hearing that Dozer had been placed with a rescue once before and someone adopted him and then returned him to Roberts, an occurrence O'Keefe and the Manchester Select Board do not want to see repeated.

"Due to the fact that the dog was previously put in an adoption program, and the dog came back into the possession of Ms. Roberts, I cannot comment anymore on our efforts to place the dog in a program," O'Keefe said.

Roberts said she thought the fine was excessive, as the board assessed one fine for $500 for running at large and three $500 fines for the three years Dozer was not licensed, even though Roberts said she didn't live in Manchester those years.

"I don't understand how they can charge me $500 a year for not having him licensed in Manchester," Roberts said. "I also lived in Sunderland and not Manchester, so how can they collect the $500 for that time?"

O'Keefe pointed out the board had chosen not to fine Roberts for 10 of the 11 running at large incidents, which could have pushed the potential fine up by another $5,000.

On the licensing issue, O'Keefe said the board told Roberts that if she could produce records that showed Dozer was licensed in Sunderland, they would forgive fines for those years.

"It should be noted that state law requires the licensing of dogs so if the dog was in Sunderland it should have been licensed and vaccinated," O'Keefe said. He also indicated he checked and could not find proof of Roberts' claim.

Contact Darren Marcy at dmarcy@manchesterjournal.com or by cell at 802-681-6534.


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