Select Board votes to impound dog after November incident

SOUTHWICK – The Select Board voted unanimously July 27 to impound Theo, a German shepherd who has been the subject of a dangerous dog hearing for more than a year.

Residents have told the Select Board that Theo, owned by Sean and Jennifer Langan, has attacked neighbors and their dogs on multiple occasions. 

Animal Control Officer Liz Bennett said during Tuesday’s meeting that the Langans had not complied with orders to build a fence on their property and to prove that Theo had begun receiving dog training. The Langans were not present at the meeting. 

“I have not received notification that the training has taken place,” said Bennett, “Long and short, nothing has been done.”

Chief Administrative Officer Karl J. Stinehart said that the town could go as far as “impoundment or seizure” of Theo. 

“You already had a finding of fact of the dog disposition, you already gave notice, you already instructed what needed to be done in a certain time period. Animal control and the police have been monitoring it and those issues have not been resolved,” said Stinehart.

Select Board member Russ Fox suggested that the town vote to impound Theo for as long as the Langans live in Southwick. Select Board member Douglas Moglin said that he received a letter from them saying that they would be moving out of Southwick soon. 

Fox noted that impounding Theo would be contingent on actually finding him first. 

This Select Board hearing was sparked by a Nov. 17, 2020, incident involving Theo and neighbor Erika Emmelmann. Theo was reported to have left the Langans’ property and attacked Emmelmann’s dog walker and her dog. 

Bennett said during a Jan. 25 hearing that because there were previous problems between the dogs, Emmelmann and the Langans had a texting system when the dog walker was there to take her dog out, so that Theo and Marley, the Langans’ other German shepherd, could be kept inside their home. That day, Bennett said, there was no response to the text and the dog walker brought Trixie out. The Langans’ dogs then came out of the house and attacked them, she said.

Moglin said later in the meeting that Theo may have been brought out of Massachusetts, which would make enforcing the Select Board’s order impossible.

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