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Buddy's Last Chance at Life

Final appeal for Milford Golden Retriever to get off death row is set for Wednesday in Hartford.

A final appeal for the life of Buddy, the Golden Retriever on death row in Milford, is set for Wednesday morning in Hartford.

As state hearing officer has already proposed that Buddy be put down because he's a danger to other animals.

"I strongly recommend that the disposal order be affirmed as issued," Hearing Officer Richard Joaquin wrote in his three-page proposed decision obtained by MilfordPatch.

He said, however, that there is no proof that Buddy is a danger to humans.

The state agriculture commissoner makes the final decision. A last appeal to save Buddy from lethal injection is set for a hearing Wednesday morning in Hartford.

Milford Animal Control put Buddy on death row in October 2010 after the dog fought with other animals. Two people were injured during the incidents.

Buddy, who's seven years old, has been held at Milford Animal Control inside Silver Sands State Park since then.

In March 2010, Buddy got loose and attacked the companion animal of Marjorie Brower-Cole, the hearing officer said.

"During the efforts to end the altercation, Ms. Cole sustained a minor puncture wound on her hand from Buddy," the officer wrote.

"The attack by Buddy on the Cole's dog was aggressive, and unprovoked..."

As a result, Buddy's owner, Victoria Stillings, was required by a restraint order to muzzle Buddy at all times when he was outside her home, to contruct an outdoor kennel in her yard for him, and to not allow the retriever loose at any time.

Stillings was issued an infraction ticket then, charging her with allowing the dog to roam and creating a nuisance.

Despite the ticket and orders, Buddy was off property, unrestrained and not muzzled in October 2010, the hearing officer notes.

Buddy roamed to a nearby beach, where a neighbor tried to help the retriever out of the water, where the dog was struggling, the hearing officer said.

"Buddy suddenly ran from the water and attacked (another neighbor's) dog and in the process (that neighbor) was knocked over sustaining minor injuries," the hearing officer wrote.

That neighbor was Jean Mario, the elderly mother of Milford personal injury lawyer Carter Mario.

"In both of the above described incidents, Buddy was the aggressor and initiator of biting contact between the dogs involved," the officer wrote.

In light of the two incidents, Milford Animal Control issued a disposal order on the dog.

"Given the two incidents previously described, the facts clearly prove that 'Buddy' has a propensity to attack companion animals," the officer wrote.

"I am not convinced, however, that 'Buddy' is a threat to people."

But, he noted that the law does not require that a dog be a threat to people for a disposal order on the animal to be upheld.

Stillings maintains that the original disposal order claimed Buddy was a danger to people -- something the hearing officer disputed. She told MilfordPatch that her attorney will make that point, among others, during the "last ditch" effort to save Buddy's life.

"So, they're going to grasp at straws to put him down for anything," she said.

Stillings conceded that Buddy got loose in October -- but that was when a friend was watching him while she was on a business trip.

"He did get out, but I had an adult watching my dog," she said. "Call me irresponsible."

Chief Animal Control Officer Rick George said simply, "It's in the hands of the state."

suzanne mora April 27, 2011 at 02:15 PM
Buddy should not be put down for being a dog. Humans should be more humane in their understanding of animal behavior. Animals can be fearful or protective. Is this reason for euthanansia? There is always another way. Euthanasia is the "easy way" out, not the compassionate and responsible way.
mchael n. marcus April 27, 2011 at 02:31 PM
This is ridiculous. Goldens are sweet, loving, gentle, funny, and protective when necessary. We don't execute terrorists. Charlie Manson is still alive. FREE BUDDY!
Larissa Watt April 27, 2011 at 02:32 PM
So true what everyone has wrote here. It seems the owner did not comply with the orders given by the animal shelter. That does not mean the dog should be killed. The bite sustained by the person who sued was a nick in my opinion. and it only happened due to the fact that the dog was being kicked b/c it was attacking another dog. The person who was bit made a big deal just so they could gain compensation. I've had worse bites from my cat or rabbit.I do understand it being a hassle to walk your small dogs and the same dog always running after it and trying to fight with it but this does not make it a vicious dog. The person bit was not mauled. It is not uncommon for a dog to chase and attack other dogs. Geez. Even my cats fight sometimes. I hope they give this dog a chance to live with a responsible owner who has a fenced in yard. Now this poor dog has been held captive for..well, just being a dog!
Susan Trevethan April 27, 2011 at 04:01 PM
There is something more to this story. There always is. I agree with many of the comments, especially when it comes to protecting their property and being frightened and protecting themselves. Let us not white wash this with euthanazia. Call it what it is, killing an innocent animal that cannot speak for himself and tell his side of the story . He deserves a responsible owner and an opportunity to live out his senior years in a fenced in yard. Susan
Bonni April 27, 2011 at 04:27 PM
I am deeply saddened by the fact that people are even discussing putting a wonderful sweet dog to death over it fighting with other dogs. Animals fight all the time. There were no serious injuries at all to anyone but because the fact that a skeezy lawyer like Carter Mario is involved a dog needs to die over nothing. People that rape and murder others get numerous trials before they are given a decision over they fate but cause a dog went after another dog it is a vicious animal.People in this world disquest me and as a owner of two dogs I vote to save Buddy.
Jeanine Santana April 27, 2011 at 05:10 PM
I do not believe Buddy should be put to sleep. Milford, in my opinion has a bad reputation for euthanizing animals much too quickly. Even if he bit another dog, did he cause death or even injury? I thinks its very coincidental that the mother of an INJURY attorney is one of the people involved. Our world needs to show more humanity and consider that possibly the dog was scared or hurting and lashed out. Considering he was having trouble in the water would indicate he was freightened. I hope Hartford does the right thing.
Krista April 27, 2011 at 05:13 PM
Save Buddy!!! This is ridiculous my dogs fight with each other every once and a while , mostly just because attitudes. No reason to kill the dog. Yes everyone is right it would be scary to walk your dog and another come and fight with them but that is not a reason to kill him , this town never thinks of solutions first , how about training, or up for adoption to someone that has a fence , this town is to quick to kill. Example ducks, geese , geese eggs or deer. Makes me sick ., SAVE BUDDY
Meg Giorgio April 27, 2011 at 08:02 PM
This is unbelievable to me, they would put a dog down for this. They should be locking up his owner for not complying and leave the dog the hell alone!! Someone who does not have other animals, and needs a great companion can give Buddy a foster or permanent home. Shame on the human race!! They kill poor animals like they don't serve any love or purpose to humans... LET BUDDY LIVE!!
Lorrie April 27, 2011 at 10:35 PM
This dog should definitely not be put to death. As someone said before....there are other ways to take care of this problem. Buddy could have training, could have a fenced-in area to stay in his yard or a foster home. Putting him to death is a repulsive idea and not a solution.
Clair Gray April 28, 2011 at 03:04 AM
Poor Buddy!!! I agree with the general consensus here, it is every dog owner's responsibility to protect their dog from this kind of incident. As the owner of an admittedly snarky, one-family dog, this is my worst fear. Owning a dog that is fear-aggressive with other dogs makes me extra sensitive to this topic. I am very careful to always have my dog on leash and under control when walking, even so he was recently attacked by a neighbors 3 small dogs who were let off leash to wander. Bottom line, dogs are animals and have animal instincts & reactions to each other...it's dog stuff, let it go if there is no major injury! It's up to the people in the situation to do the right thing, keep your dogs safe & on leash when not in a fully enclosed area!
Bill Canfield April 28, 2011 at 11:19 AM
Buddy is not a threat to humans. The people in charge of Buddy's fate should think about how they would feel if their dog were in Buddy's place. We haven't sentenced a human prisoner to death in this State for many years, give Buddy a break, maybe see if the Dog Whisperer can do anything for Buddy.
Deborah Buchanan May 01, 2011 at 12:06 PM
I believe Buddy deserves another chance , he's not a threat to humans and if he was a truly an aggressive dog the attacks would have been more bloody and vicious . Buddy is an Alpha male and as such he feels he has to prove his dominance over other dogs specially males by growling , nipping and putting his head on their necks and pushing down to attain the other dogs compliance. This problem can be diminished by the use of a muzzle , when he goes out for a walk put a muzzle on him ending his ability to bite and nip another animal. Like I always tell my sons , you can't blame an animal for being an animal - a dog is only as good as his owner.
kath May 01, 2011 at 01:41 PM
OMG! Someone please help this poor dog and enlighten the folks around him who made this horrific decision to kill this poor dog get some real brains in their heads if the any at all; because this dog can certainly be retrained or rehabilitated given the chance! And why hasn't he been already helped in some way since he's been held prisoner? Wake up already! Too many animals are put on death row and killed because of overpopulation or aggression and the biggest excuse of all is because folks just dump them anywhere or don't want to be bothered anymore which is not fair for the animal. People need to find better solutions and better ways to deal with these situations and make better efforts to rehome or help these poor things. Animals are helpless and people are not! Would rather work with animals then humans at times cuz they are easier to deal with and are animals are just looking for kindness, caring and compassion!
MisterSpuddy May 01, 2011 at 02:07 PM
What I glean from reading these comments is that Buddy's owner willfully ignored orders to keep him in his own yard and keep control of him. Part of the deal to pardon Buddy should be that he gets a new home with someone who is attentive and cares about his welfare (he could have just as easily been hit by a car while he was roaming loose) Would you let your BABY roam unattended? Well- sadly some people do. It's the same thing. You have a pet, you have an obligation to keep him safe and to pick up after him. Sadly way too few do!!!
Maureen Dixon May 01, 2011 at 02:38 PM
This is a really sad and difficult situation. On one hand, I really feel for Buddy. I grew up with Golden Retrievers and they are still one of my favorite breeds. I feel like Buddy's aggression is manifested inappropriately because of lack of adequate training for both him and his owner and I don't think he is a lost cause. On the other hand, an aggressive dog can be a real liability. If I was walking my beagle and Buddy was unsupervised/uncontrolled and attacked him, I would be very upset. No one wants to incur unexpected and expensive emergency vet bills (logically) and seeing your own dog attacked is extremely difficult emotionally. I find it unfortunate that Buddy was given two chances and his owner has been unable to comply with the demands placed on Buddy for the safety of other dogs. Again, I don't think any dog is a lost cause. Their resiliency and adaptability constantly impresses me. However, I don't think it's fair to other dog owners in the area to have an aggressive dog that has a knack for "getting out." I wish Euthanasia wasn't the only option on the table here. I think Buddy should go to a Rescue organization and be rehabilitated/adopted. If dogs can be saved from the dregs of fighting rings and placed in loving homes, I'm certain there is hope for Buddy. I wish it wasn't his last chance, but his owner's last chance at keeping him.
Gmoney May 01, 2011 at 06:43 PM
Micheal Vick just spent two years in jail for dogfighting & killing dogs. These dogs were trained to kill other dogs & did so... & over 100 of them were NOT euthenized & were rehabilitated by good dog owners. Dogs need training & discipline & dogs actions are reflections of their owners. Now our local government wants us to believe this is an Evil dog that must DIE! If this dog doesn't get a second chance, neither should our lousy politicians.
Carol Gabor May 02, 2011 at 02:03 AM
Goldies are not aggressive dogs by nature, something must have provoced him and he looks like a beautiful Dog. I just lost my last one a few months ago, and would do anything to help Buddy. Being my daughter is a Vet. Tech in Long Island, she was totally appalled at hearing this, since as I said Goldies have the best temperament of any dog. I hate to say this but I really believe with Gmoney and most of the other commentors, Buddy should deffinitely be saved, most of my family have been bitten by their own dogs either playing to hard with them or waking them up in a start and the poor animals are so saddened by what they have done, you can almost see them with tears in their eyes. We all have bad days, and dogs will be dogs and "play" very hard and forefully together. Buddy does not deserve even getting into a situation this bad.
Lindsay May 02, 2011 at 02:23 AM
I have not met this dog so I can not say this for sure, but I have a lot of experience with rehabilitating and dealing with dogs like Buddy. It is very clear from reading the articles and the story about what happened with buddy that this is the case of a bad dog owner. This dog should not be killed because the owner does not know how to keep a dog. The truth is this is a clear case of a poorly socialized and pent up with a lot of energy and no where to put it. This dog needs to be removed from it's owner and the owner given a ticket as well as a mandate that she can no longer have dogs as pets because she successfully created a dog that is a threat to other animals. There are probably a hundred dogs just in Milford that are a threat to other animals. Many people do not know how to socialize their dogs and therefor if you see them walking on the street you hear "please stay back my dog is not friendly" but these people, while they do not know how to socialize a dog, take responsibility for this dog by keeping it in an environment where it can not hurt anyone. This woman clearly does not take this responsibility seriously and she needs to be told. Buddy can very likely be transformed into a loving, happy dog with a little exercise and some guidance. This breed of dog is not inherently aggressive but they are over zealous and a lot of times their playing is another dog's attack. They play rough and that is why you need to keep them exercised and trained.
Marty May 03, 2011 at 11:57 PM
Of course the dog should not be killed. That is absurd. The dog should be surrendered to a rescue that can find the dog a home with a new owner experienced in dealing with these issues. The fact that this has gone on this long also is absurd. For many, putting a dog to sleep is the easy answer but for anyone with a conscience, that isn't an acceptable solution, especially in a case like this where no person has been injured...except, coincidently enough, the mother of a a notorious personal injury lawyer who has built a career on suing anyone who remotely is guilty of anything. He would probably sue said mother if he thought he could collect.
Linda May 04, 2011 at 01:22 AM
I don't want to see Buddy killed but I do know first hand what it is like to have your dog attacked by another. I had it happen while I was walking my dog. It was traumatic for both me and my dog. I had a $1,000 vet bill and was told by Milford animal control there was nothing they could do. The dog that attacked my dog was a bloodhound which is supposed to be a docile breed also. Buddy needs training and a new home.
Cindy Howard May 05, 2011 at 03:03 PM
Every dog lover should be upset by this story and it's too bad there aren't more letters in support of Buddy. He could go to a Rescue and live out his life he shouldn't be killed because of bad training and control, he was just be a dog.
Point Beach May 24, 2011 at 01:35 PM
I wish the law allowed an option for Buddy to be given to a home & rehabilitated. Unfortunately, the law allows only 2 options; to be returned to the owner or destroyed. The law cannot dictate the owner give up the dog after it has been returned. What is not mentioned here is that Buddy has a long documented history of being off property & increasingly animal aggressive. He has attacked dogs several times. The complaints with Milford Animal Control were after these attacks and the continued lack of action & control of Buddy by his owner. In one case, the owner was notified dogs were walking down the street and to take control of Buddy. She did not even put a leash on him. Buddy ran off property then chased & attacked the dogs. Buddy's fate was created by his owner. The restraining order was very clear. BEFORE the dog is allowed outside the house a muzzle & leash MUST be on him and THEN he would be allowed outside. No excuse Buddy was allowed outside without them on. To blame the dog sitter just means that the owner did not inform and/or stress the importance of the restraining order. It should be noted that BOTH of the owner's dogs have been off property and bitten humans. She has been sued 2x for this. Is it me or is there a pattern here? The owner has a documented history of not controlling her dogs. Had multiple chances to correct her actions & prevent this situation. She chose not to. Very sad. The owner created the situation... not Buddy.
Lorrie June 24, 2011 at 08:45 PM
I agree with Stephen Bennett....we should all write emails to the state and let them know our opinions. This is not the dogs fault.
Susan Gothing August 25, 2011 at 08:10 PM
@Point Beach, please be advised that Buddy has a new owner. The Lexus Project. They are responsible, and have a place for Buddy with a person who is a certified trainer, and has fostered over 135 dogs. This is the ideal situation for Buddy. She knows how to be a responsible human.
Cindy Howard August 25, 2011 at 11:52 PM
Finally a little compassion for this poor dog.
Gaele Favro September 01, 2011 at 08:17 PM
Court for Buddy. Tuesday Sept 6 @ 9:30. 14 west river street. Milford, CT.
jeff sanctuary September 04, 2011 at 11:46 PM
Lorrie September 06, 2011 at 03:45 PM
Gary Jeanfaivre (Editor) September 06, 2011 at 04:15 PM
Update as of 11 a.m. on Sept. 6 -- Judge gives involved parties three hours to work out a settlement before a hearing this afternoon.
Cindy Howard September 06, 2011 at 04:17 PM
I'm praying for Buddy.


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