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