A Manchester man is asking for both the community and City Council to be more cognizant about how leash laws are enforced after he was attacked while out walking his dog.
In early January, Harold Blatt said he and his 20-pound dog, Ellye, were out for a stroll when they were both accosted by a collarless, unleashed black dog.
The large dog knocked the almost 75-year-old Blatt to the ground, leaving a scrape on his knee, and bit Ellye before the dog was able to hide under a parked car.
“Fortunately, two good Samaritans came to our assistance,” Blatt told the council.
The pair was able to get Ellye from under the car and also call the police, who responded quickly, Blatt said.
“I have a severe heart disorder, which requires a pacemaker and defibrillator,” Blatt said. “Being knocked down and rolling around with a large black dog is not a good activity for me.”
Blatt said he is convinced Ellye would have been killed if the incident didn’t take place next to the parked car she sought refuge under, a thought that is difficult for him to bear.
“Ellye is my buddy, but she is also my service dog, who helps monitor and control my health issues,” Blatt said. “Without her, I don’t know how I would get along.”
Following the melee, Blatt found blood on Ellye’s back, prompting a visit to the vet.
He said in the 25 years he’s lived in Manchester, he hasn’t felt threatened until now, and as a result he would like the council to review its dog-related ordinances.
“I see more and more pet owners letting their dogs go without a leash or proper control,” he said. “I know there’s a leash ordinance in Manchester for pets, and I’m wondering how closely it’s enforced.”
City Manager Tim Vick said the offending dog was taken by the Manchester Police Department and a report has been filed.
“The owner was out of town, (the dog) was being watched by a neighbor or friend,” Vick said. “So, there are some issues with that, but we will be taking other steps as we go through this — this is a process.”
Councilman Bill Scherbring said he’s been in a similar situation, where his Yorkie was attacked and killed by a neighbor’s dog while it was trying to protect Scherbring’s children.
“Our neighbors were very kind and picked up the vet bill,” Scherbring said. “Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to go to them before heading to civil (court).”
Blatt said the vet bill wasn’t his primary concern.
“This is the second time an incident like this has happened to me — again, these dogs were not under control and not on leashes,” Blatt said. “The bigger concern is the general welfare and safety of the public. And I understand it’s a big task and I appreciate everything the police do, but I think it’s growing into a community concern.”
Councilman Dean Sherman said during his career as a mail carrier, he’s had his fair share of run-ins with vicious dogs.
Sherman said he usually had a pretty good idea of where troublesome dogs were, but stray dogs were always a reality.
“One thing a lot of mail carriers do to protect themselves is carry mace,” he said. “It might not be a bad idea to have something like that with you so you have the means to protect yourself if something does happen.”
Because, Sherman said, at the end of the day ordinances can only control so much.
“(Dogs) are going to get loose, chains are going to break, stuff is going to happen — it’s impossible to write anything in an ordinance to prevent something like that from happening but it’s good you brought this to our attention,” he said.
Sherman said he was grateful that Blatt voiced his concerns, and added that community awareness of the issue is important.
Vick said he was still in the review process of the city’s vicious dog ordinance.