Suffield picks up tab for dog that killed woman, looks for options

·2 min read

Mar. 23—SUFFIELD — The owners of the dog that killed an elderly woman in 2019 have stopped paying their quarantined pet's boarding costs, forcing the town to pick up the tab, Town Attorney Derek Donnelly said.

This month the Board of Selectmen approved a payment of about $3,900 to River Valley Animal Center to cover the cost of holding the dog for January and February.

The dog, Dexter, is owned by Neil and Annie Hornish, and has been held in quarantine at River Valley since November 2019.

That month Dexter attacked and killed 95-year-old Janet D'Aleo as she visited the Hornishes' home, according to police.

The town's animal control officer ordered Dexter euthanized following the attack, but the Hornishes have continued to fight the order through appeals to the state Department of Agriculture and Superior Court.

Dexter has been held at River Valley, because the town has a contract with the veterinary practice to hold impounded dogs.

The terms of the contract require the owners of impounded animals to pay any costs for their pets' care, Donnelly said.

Until January the Hornishes were paying for Dexter's care at the cost of $68 per day, but they now refuse to do so, he said.

The Hornishes' lawyer, Timothy Jensen, declined to comment today.

Considering River Valley is the town's partner, the selectmen felt the town should reimburse the center in this scenario, Donnelly said.

Looking ahead, Donnelly said the town is exploring ways to recover the payment, and to have its impounded animals held elsewhere.

Partnering with the Windsor Locks Police Department could be one option. This month, that town's Police Commission voted unanimously to allow Suffield to use its animal control building temporarily.

In December a Superior Court judge denied a request by the Hornishes to bring Dexter home, or restart regular visits with him as their appeal proceeds through the court process.

The judge said he had reservations about the Hornishes' ability to care for Dexter and protect any person or animal that he came in contact with.

A police summary of the attack at the Hornishes home on Nov. 6, 2019, said Dexter bit D'Aleo on the leg, bringing her to the ground, and then maimed and mutilated her lower extremities, causing injuries that led to her death.

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