Police: Owner of Dog, Subject of Neglect Investigation, Nonresponsive to New Complaints of Roaming

Already at the center of a recently closed neglect investigation, a Devonwood Lane dog has been getting off-property and roaming his neighborhood, according to police.

A photo shows the interior of the garage at the home where a puppy is said to have been seen consistently among his own feces and urine. The garage has been cleaned and the puppy reported healthy, closing a dog neglect investigation, according to the Animal Control section of the New Canaan Police Department.

The repeated roaming incidents came to a head recently when members of the New Canaan Police Department’s Animal Control section came upon the young Bernese Mountain Dog while following up on a separate incident on Devonwood, according to a police report obtained by NewCanaanite.com following a Freedom of Information request.

At about 2:30 p.m. on July 13—a Thursday—Officer Allyson Halm, the head of Animal Control, returned a different dog who had somehow got off-property and roamed to a neighboring street back to its Devonwood Lane home, according to the incident report.

“While on the property a Bernese Mt. Dog came bounding up to me, at which time [a neighbor] indicated it was a neighborhood dog that was always loose,” according to Halm’s statement in the report.

The animal had no tags or ID and was impounded to the NCPD Animal Control shelter so he was secured and provided water, the report said.

On returning to headquarters, Halm found that she had received a complaint on June 21 regarding a Bernese Mountain Dog belonging to the owner of 107 Devonwood Lane.

She left a message for the owner, saying an infraction summons would be issued for allowing a dog to roam and failure to license, the report said.

The dog, named ‘Raleigh,’ already is known to police.

In the spring, police investigated a complaint brought by a garbage man that the animal was living in a urine- and feces-covered garage.

Despite photographic evidence of the unsanitary conditions, the homeowner had told police that his dog is well taken care of and also said at the time—this is in April—that he had just acquired the Bernese puppy and would license him soon, according to police. That garage later was cleaned up and the neglect case closed, police have said.

Yet the dog apparently never was licensed. Also, following the June 21 roaming complaint, Animal Control officers left voicemails for Raleigh’s owners on June 22 and 23, and received no response, according to the incident report. Police also received no response from the owner—Kevin Smith—in issuing a written warning to him on July 5 for allowing a dog to roam, nuisance dog and failure to license, the report said.

Smith himself received the infraction summons and paid a $15 impound fee in collecting Raleigh from police at about 6:11 p.m. on July 13, the same day he was found on the neighbor’s property, according to the incident report.

Halm told Smith on July 25 that Raleigh must be licensed with the town by Aug. 1. It wasn’t clear from the report whether the dog yet has been licensed.

10 thoughts on “Police: Owner of Dog, Subject of Neglect Investigation, Nonresponsive to New Complaints of Roaming

  1. This area is million dollar homes and the guy can’t take care of this poor baby! Definitely does NOT deserve this sweet boy. I’ll come get him. I already have two Berners, we would love another. They are wonderful family members. Love my boys!

  2. People. Stop it. Don’t get a dog if you can’t take care of him. He’s a family member. Deserves love, a clean home, and a freakin walk! Wth is wrong w people??

  3. I hope the owner is responsible enough to give up the dog to one of these responsible people who will love and care for him.

  4. We have received a handful of emails and comments on social media regarding this article—some thoughtful, others sent rather late at night.

    To be clear, there’s nothing unusual from our side to report on these infraction offenses: We report every animal-related police incident/call that I find newsworthy, and one criterion for newsworthiness is when someone is issued an infraction summons—a form of arrest under state law.

    That happened here, as we reported, though I didn’t feel a headline along the lines of “Resident Cited for [XYZ]” was appropriate for this article. (I also felt it wasn’t necessary to include identifying information of the owners high up in the article, so we do not give the street number on Devonwood until the 6th paragraph, the name of the dog until the 8th and the name of the owner until the 11th.)

    Each week, I meet with the head of New Canaan Animal Control and review each and every wildlife- and animal-related call that police took in the prior seven days. In some cases, we never report those incidents—such as when a deer is struck by a motor vehicle or if nothing comes of a roaming dog sighting. Sometimes the animal calls end up as items in the weekly “Did You Hear” news summary (like this call about a fawn), and sometimes—dog bites, neglect investigations, Spencer’s Run incidents—we end up doing standalone stories.

    In general, the police require me to formally request incident reports in those more substantial/serious cases through the Freedom of Information Act. Under FOIA, the police have 20 days to respond to me, so there can be a delay between the incident itself and our reporting on it.

    Some of those commenting have tried to describe the article as “one-sided”—as though we should be reaching out to those who are arrested or ticketed before writing an article about those incidents. I do not know of a single news organization that does that. I don’t believe our readers have ever seen a story on New Canaanite where we interview an arrested or ticketed person prior to publishing a story. We do that with civil lawsuits, always, but never with arrests or citations—it’s impractical and as I say, there isn’t a news organization I know of that does.

    Here is a recent example of an animal neglect investigation story where we name the subject of the investigation and in that case, there wasn’t even a ticket issued. I didn’t hear any of our readers voice concerns about that story, and—while I understand some may know the owners in this Devonwood Road case personally—I’m not sure why this incident with the Bernese would get special treatment.

    As far as the story itself goes, all of the information comes directly from the police incident report, and is attributed as such. That goes for the original dog neglect investigation story from April and this one.

    The way traffic built on this Devonwood dog story is unusual. It was the single least-read story in Tuesday’s newsletter this week, but then one of the dog’s owners posted a comment on social media, perhaps urged others to do the same, and that helped it gain visibility on the website through an active comment thread, so that it is now the most-read article for the past week. What I expect to happen here is that the story will now become one of the most-read articles of 2017 and so when we do our “Top-10 Articles of the Year” in December, this could very well make the list.

    • Excellent explanation, Michael, of your responsible reporting. These stories need to be made public to remind pet owners that they have serious responsibilities to their pets and community. What is the latest on this dog? Thank you.

      • Thank you. We had a follow-up note in last week’s “Did You Hear…?” that this dog is now registered, yet Animal Control did have to take the very unusual step of issuing a second infraction summons for Failure To License before that happened, bringing the total citations issued to three. Whether the owners paid or pleaded not guilty I don’t know.

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