Publicity over a dog fight at an Oxford park last month has led town officials to scrutinize a small Newfoundland breeding operation owned by Vickie Tkacz.
Tkacz owns four Newfoundland dogs who town officials say attacked and killed an 11-year-old Labrador mix at Jackson Cove Park on July 26. The Newfoundlands were among six adult dogs Tkacz owned as part of the breeding operation, called “Lakeside Newfies.”
Oxford’s assistant tax assessor and Zoning Enforcement Officer this week said Tkacz should have registered Lakeside Newfies with the town as a business.
Assistant tax assessor Teresa Geremski said her office plans to send Tkacz a personal property declaration form so the town can track and tax her business assets. And the tax assessor’s office has notified the town’s Zoning Enforcement Officer, which oversees special permits for home businesses.
“We say we know you are there and now you need to tell us what the assets of your business are,” Geremski said.
Tkacz’s attorney, Ralph Crozier, said this is just the latest in a “game” the town is playing with his client.
“They’re going after her in every possible way,” Crozier said.
The dog attack was caught on surveillance video at the park. Police are not releasing the video to the public. Town officials have viewed the tape and said it backs up their account of the incident, which differs from Tkacz’ account in the total number of Newfies who participated in killing an 11-year-old Labrador mix and biting a part-time park worker.
Tkacz is facing several misdemeanor charges for allegedly not cooperating with a police investigation into the dog fight and for not controlling the animals.
Crozier said the town is strong-arming Tkacz, who has also been charged criminally for the incident.
The town last week issued a destruction order for two of the Newfoundland dogs it has in custody, and issued a press release notifying the public about the order.
The order came because Tkacz was being uncooperative with the town, according to the press release.
Crozier said Tkacz has been complying with everything the town has asked — and even offered to keep her dogs on her property and use tracking devices to make sure they don’t get away.
“They are playing games with my client,” Crozier said. “They’re going after her in every possible way. They had her falsely arrested. They lied in affidavits, lied to the community, put out a press release. I haven’t seen that in 35 years.”
First Selectwoman Mary Ann Drayton-Rogers rejected Crozier’s claims.
“That’s ridiculous,” Drayton-Rogers said. “It’s not true.”
Crozier said Lakeside Newfies was not a business, as the town claims.
Tkacz is a private dog owner who raises no more than two litters per year, Crozier said. Therefore, it’s not a regulated dog breeding business.
The Valley Indy previously reported that according to state law, Tkacz did not need a kennel license from Oxford because her dogs didn’t produce more than two litters per year.
However, the town contends it still needed paperwork showing she was running a business out of the home.
Up until a few days after the dog attack, Tkacz operated a website for Lakeside Newfies. She took it down after receiving death threats, Crozier said.
Geremski said the town learned about the business through all the media coverage of the dog attack.
The breeding business assets could include kennels, computers and the dogs themselves, if they are being sold, Geremski said.
Geremski plans to send out the declaration form at the end of September.
If Tkacz does not respond by Nov. 1, the tax assessor’s office will estimate the assets of the business and give a penalty of 25 percent of the total assets, Geremski said.
Tkacz must apply to the Planning and Zoning office, Building Department and Inland Wetlands office for a permit to operate a cottage business in a residential zone, according to Anna Silva-Rycenga, the zoning enforcement officer.
It’s not clear if the town will pursue the business permits, Silva-Rycenga said. She is going on maternity leave soon, and doesn’t plan to pursue the case beforehand, Silva-Rycenga said.
She was not certain if a temporary zoning enforcement officer will take up the case in her absence.
In the meantime no enforcement action regarding zoning permits is being taken against Tkacz, Silva-Rycenga said.