Skip to main content

Ashland - Local Town Pages

Dog determined “dangerous,” Select Board places conditions on dog’s future

Dog now in training, owners say he will not return to Ashland

By Theresa Knapp 

During a ‘dangerous dog hearing’ on March 6, the Ashland Select Board declared Cooper, a four-year-old American Bulldog belonging to Claire Roskam and living on West Union Street at the time of a vicious attack on another dog on Jan. 13, to be a “dangerous” dog. 

The board had previously opened the hearing on Feb. 7, but it was continued pending further information after the town learned the dog was no longer living in Ashland. Cooper now lives in Framingham.  

At the March meeting, the board heard from Ashland Animal Control Officer Donna Walsh; Claire Roskam (and her boyfriend Richard) who owns the dangerous dog; Kelly and Peter Lacasse whose dog Lincoln was attacked; and others who witnessed the incident. 

ACO Walsh said she had been called to the home of Kelly and Peter Lacasse on Woodland Street address after two Roskam dogs, Cooper and Quinn (who has since been euthanized), attacked the Lacasse dog, a silver labrador retriever named Lincoln. 

 During the emotional hearing that lasted more than an hour, the board heard details of the harrowing attack. 

Kelly Lacasse, whose dog was attacked and she says is almost fully healed, said, ”I saw his [Cooper’s] face. The attack was completely unprovoked. The dog [Lincoln] was walking through the yard. The other three [Roskam]  dogs came like shoom-shoom-shoom out from under their fence. It was so fast and they circled once around, and Cooper just latched onto his [Lincoln] back, and Quinn followed.”

“I will say, if my dog did this to another dog, he would not be here today,” she said. “If you saw what happened that day, you would feel the same. His [Cooper’s] face was cruel, mean...It was traumatizing.” 

Kelly’s sister Marybeth witnessed the event and testified that she too was traumatized. She recalled Kelly’s screaming, the dog crying, and other people doing everything they could to pull the dogs apart. Marybeth said if that happened to her dogs, which are smaller, they would not have survived. “Lincoln’s a big dog and that’s how Lincoln survived that.”

Claire Roskam, Cooper’s owner, said, “I still feel really awful for everything that’s happened…My dog has never done something like this before, and it kind of confused us all.” 

She said Cooper jumped on the fence, broke it, and their three dogs (a third was not involved in the incident) attacked Lincoln. She said she is doing everything she can to get Cooper retrained, and said the dog is currently in an eight-week residential training program in Southborough that specializes in aggressive dogs. 

Claire said, “It was traumatic but I do believe my dog deserves a chance at life.” She did say her dog had been attacked himself about 1 ½ years ago. 

In preparation for the hearing, ACO Walsh had worked with the Framingham Animal Control Officer to create a list of suggestions should the board decide not to order the dog euthanized. The Select Board voted 4-1 (Joseph Magnani opposed) to let the dog live with the following restrictions: 

- Dog may not be chained, tethered, or otherwise tied to an inanimate object (tree, post, building, etc.)

- Dog must be securely confined indoors, or securely confined/enclosed outside area pen/dog run area (which should also have a roof, and a shelter) 

- Dog shall be securely and humanely restrained with a chain or tethering device, not exceeding 3 feet in length while walking outside

- Dog must be muzzled when outdoors

- Owner must have insurance on the dog of at least $100,000

- Dog must be microchipped for permanent identification and provide info to town where the dog resides

Another restriction proposed by ACO Walsh, but not adopted by the board, was to not allow the dog to be in the possession, care or custody of a child under the age of 17. Claire Roskam said her young daughter has grown up with Cooper and they coexist without incident. 

The decision is valid and enforceable throughout the Commonwealth, regardless of where the dog lives. .  

Board Chairman Robert Scherer said, “This is a difficult decision…I do agree that we can take these measures rather than euthanizing the dog. I’m certainly cognizant of the trauma that this has involved, and I’m sorry that it all happened; these are not easy decisions.” 

Board members told Cooper’s owners that their commitment to rehabilitating their dog is “massive” and they will need to be diligent about training when Cooper comes home. They encouraged the family to seek additional remedies should they decide they cannot give the dog the care he needs.