Update: Dog Mauling Closes Oxford Park

Jackson Cove Park was closed this week after a dog was mauled to death there Tuesday afternoon (July 26).

Update: Owner of mauled dog speaks.

The incident was captured on video cameras installed at the park.

The dog was killed after it was attacked by four Newfoundlands, according to Parks and Recreation director Debbie Gatto. The park was open again as of Thursday morning.

Newfoundlands are large dogs which can range in weight from 100 to 150 pounds, according to the American Kennel Association.

Gatto, who watched the video, said a 20-year-old off-duty park employee was sitting near the park’s entrance with his dog, a lab mix, at about 12:30 p.m.

She said the four Newfoundlands were being walked by four adolescent children. Gatto said the dogs belong to a neighboring property owner. The family breeds Newfoundland dogs, according to this website.

Two of the large dogs either broke loose or were let off the leashes and attacked the smaller lab, Gatto said.

The lab’s owner tried to intervene to save his dog. The Newfoundlands bit him several times. The lab’s owner was taken to Griffin Hospital, where he was treated for his wounds and released. He is being treated with the rabies vaccine as a precaution.

“This was nasty,” Gatto said. Another park employee who witnessed the attack is “a mess,” Gatto said.

The sounds of the attack were so loud people came up from the beach to investigate — and that the owner of the dogs came to the park in his car to see what was happening, Gatto said.

The Valley Indy left a message seeking comment with the victim and with the Tkacz family, the owners of the Newfoundlands, who live on Jackson Cove Road.

Two of the four Newfoundlands have been quarantined by town officials, Gatto said.

Michael Lee-MurphyGatto wasn’t sure about the other two Newfoundlands. Gatto said she heard from police that the dogs may have been moved out of Connecticut.

Sandy Merry, the town’s animal control officer, said the incident is under investigation.

“At this point I can’t really comment because we are trying to investigate,” Merry said. “Hopefully we’ll have this wrapped up within the next few days.”

Merry referred additional questions to state police.

Sgt. Dan Semosky, Oxford’s Resident State Trooper, said he could not comment at length about the incident for fear of jeopardizing his investigation.

Semosky said the state’s animal control division, along with the town’s animal control officer, are investigating.

Regarding whether the two missing Newfoundlands have been transported out of state, Semosky said, “We are looking into that possibility.”

“We’re taking this very seriously. We are very definitely working on it and it is a very active investigation,” he said.

Gatto said she decided to close Jackson Cove Park Tuesday and Wednesday as a precaution. Her plan was to keep the park closed — boat ramps and all — until she gets official word that all the Newfoundlands have been found.

“If the police and the dog warden can convince me that they are under somebody’s control, then (Jackson Cove will open). I’m not going to take any chances. This could have been a child,” Gatto said.

Semosky said the public is not in danger.

“I think any danger right now is over, but it is up to them (town officials) to determine what they want to do,” he said.

According to Gatto, these particular Newfoundlands have been an issue “on and off for years.” She said the dogs and their owners are known to town officials.

“They’re not generally aggressive, but when one gets mad, they’re all getting mad,” she said.

Semosky said the animal control officer knows the dogs’ owners but declined to go into specifics.

Newfoundlands are known for their docile nature and love of water, according to the American Kennel Club.

Jackson Cove Park, on the Housatonic River, is a popular recreation spot for swimming, boating and hiking.

Note: Photo of dog taken from Wikipedia. Original source here.


posted by: William DeRosa on July 27, 2011  12:49pm

I seriously hope they arent closing the park for more than a few hours! What about the boat ramp? Thats horesbulldonkey poo. Why should we all have to stay away…put the dogs all to sleep and reopen the park. Simple.

posted by: oldguyjj on July 27, 2011  3:21pm


posted by: OxfordCitizen on July 27, 2011  3:26pm

All 4 dogs should be put down and the owners fined and/or sued.  That’s ridiculous !  Animal owners need to control their pets !!

posted by: melissaizzo on July 28, 2011  9:34am

This is why children shouldn’t be allowed to walk dogs. Dogs need to be under the control of their owners/walkers at all times. They are animals and although we love them like family, and they ARE family, we are responsible for their safety and the safety of other animals they come into conatct with. Whenever I see a child or young teenager walking a dog I stay far away from them because I don’t believe they are responsible or strong enough to control their dog should he try to get away. What sucks is that it’s the dogs who suffer when people are irresponsible. My heart goes out to the owner of the lab mix. What a nightmare he lived. I also don’t think the Newfoundlands should be put down- they just need to be under control! Muzzled in public, or safely contained/leashed/ WALKED BY ADULTS.

posted by: fedupinoxford on July 29, 2011  4:43pm

It’s a real shame the police department failed to do it’s job when the problem of these dogs and the owner first arose. All of this could have been prevented

posted by: Tommy Callahan on July 29, 2011  8:30pm

“adolescent children” how responsible on the owners part.

posted by: Jill Losee on July 30, 2011  12:08am

This was a definite tragedy, and one that could probably have been prevented if the dogs were being walked by someone large enough to handle them. Expecting a young child to control a 150 lb dog is not realistic.  Newfs as a breed are generally not people, nor dog aggressive. If there’s been an issue previously with the owners then a large fine that punishes THEM and NOT the dogs is more in line than killing two or four more dogs due to mismanagement by the owners.  My heart goes out to the young man who lost his elderly lab… they did nothing to cause this attack from anything I read.

posted by: involved citizen on July 31, 2011  7:45am

The dog owners have a history of total disregard for their neighbors

posted by: Joann Cummings Worcester on July 31, 2011  8:45pm

I have a 2 year old Newfoundland from this breeder and he is the biggest baby going.  I can’t believe this happened.  If you google Newfoundland they are what they call the gentle giants…..My newfoundland is afraid of a stuffed Big Red Dog….what does that tell u something more happened here…..

posted by: Tara Rowe on August 1, 2011  11:07pm

@Joann from 7/31 yes these dogs are gentle giants HOWEVER, this so-called “breeder” is not an NCA/AKC affiliate so I wouldn’t go around advertising this as the place where you got your Newf.  It will only cause you problems. I think you’re lucky that your baby is so sweet and gentle.  I have a feeling there were some questionable breeding practices taking place here leading to a not so stable temperament.

posted by: oldguyjj on August 2, 2011  12:14pm

i agree with tara .this person been warn before . i guess there are complaints about her and dogs. she should be held responsible for them. if the kids could not handle them ,well should i say more

posted by: Marne Burke on August 2, 2011  10:58pm

What a heartbreaking tragedy.  My deepest condolences to the family of the dog who was killed and to those who witnessed such a horror.

This behavior is absolutely not typical of the Newfoundland breed.  ANY indication of aggression would cause a responsible newf breeder to remove such a dog from a breeding program and implement careful containment.  In addition, a dog of such power should only be handled by someone capable of controlling it in case of emergency. 

The failure to enforce previous violations of local animal control regulations should be carefully examined to prevent future tragedies.

posted by: Stacy Collins on August 14, 2011  9:54pm

I guess these so-called breeders are running away!!  the house is for sale…prob. a bargain to be had there!