BRANFORD >> The dog accused of attacking a 93-year-old woman on Sunday will be euthanized, according to a copy of the police department’s incident report.
But the director of the Dan Cosgrove Animal Shelter said Wednesday the town does not have the authority “to tell anyone that a dog has to be euthanized.”
“The only people who can determine that are the owners or a judge,” shelter Director Laura Burban said in an email. “At this point, we have not heard from the owners as to what their intentions are.”
The incident report identifies the dog as a pit bull name Booker and, according to animal adoption listings, Booker originally had been adopted from the Dan Cosgrove Animal Shelter in September by owner Matthew Radulski.
Booker is accused of mauling McKinnel Court resident Rita Pepe, causing severe damage to her leg.
Burban said Booker, prior to adoption, “underwent extensive evaluations by staff, volunteers and trainers.”
“He did not show a propensity of violence towards people,” Burban added. “He was well-socialized with different age groups, both men and women. We are uncertain as to what triggered this horrific event but for now, we are focusing on Ms. Pepe’s recovery.”
Booker is being held under quarantine at the shelter.
Burban said state quarantine laws mean nobody is allowed to visit Booker or take photos of the dog from inside his cage. An online adoption search however yielded several photos of the dog.
Laura Radulski, the wife of the dog’s owner, declined to comment Wednesday when reached by phone.
“Animal control took possession of Booker,” an incident report written by Officer Joseph J. Harrington states. “Animal control explained to Radulski that the dog would be quarantined for approximately two weeks, at which point Booker would have to be euthanized.”
“That is a police report done by the police officers,” Burban said. “So, unfortunately, I do not have any knowledge of this happening. I have never spoken to the owners, and my staff has no knowledge of what the outcome will be of the dog once the two weeks is up.”
Burban added that she is hopeful the Radulskis will reach out to her within the next week.
Harrington was one of two officers dispatched to the intersection of Harbor Street and McKinnel Court, the scene of the alleged attack. The dog’s owner provided police with a sworn statement, according to Harrington.
“Radulski explained that after taking his dog, Booker, for a walk he proceeded back inside his residence,” Harrington wrote. “Radulski explained that once he took the leash off Booker, he turned around for a brief moment at which point Booker ran out the back door. Radulski stated he immediately ran out the back door yelling for help and as he approached the intersection of Harbor Street and McKinnel Court he noticed a large group of people yelling for help. Radulski explained that as he approached he observed Booker circling Rita Pepe, attempting to attack her. Radulski explained that he had to strike Booker over the head numerous times with a rock in order to get him away from Pepe.”
The report adds that “numerous witnesses” told police the dog attacked Pepe.
Pepe suffered a “severe” bite to her lower left leg, according to the report.
“Once they were able to get Booker away from Pepe, Radulski was able to gain control of Booker and secure him in a crate,” Harrington noted.
One witness, McKinnel Court resident Doug Johnson, told police he heard a lot of “yelling and screaming” and upon reaching the scene saw Pepe lying on the ground. He and two other men tried to lure Booker away from Pepe, Harrington’s report states.
Reached Wednesday, Johnson said he feels lucky to have been outside working Sunday.
“I know Mrs. Pepe,” he said. “I spoke with her on the phone the day after the incident, and she sounded like she was in good spirits.”
Booker’s adoption listing identifies him as a terrier mix, 16 months old and weighing 60 pounds.
“He is a friendly dog who loves to play,” the listing states. “He would do best in a home without cats. He is neutered, house-trained and up to date with shots.”
Call Evan Lips at 203-789-5727. Have questions, feedback or ideas about our news coverage? Connect directly with the editors of the New Haven Register at AskTheRegister.com.