Get daily Westford text alerts by subscribing here.
If you value this free news please consider making a donation to WestfordCAT through: paypal.com/us/fundraiser/
The two dogs appeared in the yard of 10 Wilson Farm Road suddenly, barking aggressively, and then allegedly charging toward Michael Kuklin, 18, and the toy poodle named Lola he was walking.
The black labrador mix and pitbull mix mauled the 6 pound dog viciously, killing her, according to Lola’s owner and Kuklin’s stepfather, Evgeni Belin.
Now Belin wants the Board of Selectmen to take action.
“They must be euthanized” he said of the two dogs.
Selectmen will hold a public hearing on the matter on Thursday, May 2, at 8 a.m. in the new fire station at 65 Boston Road.
The agenda posted by Animal Control Officer Kirsten Hirschler promises to “examine complaints received by residents of Wilson Farm Road regarding potential nuisance/dangerous dogs located at 10 Wilson Farm Road and consider enforcement action in accordance with Massachusetts General Law Chapter 140 Section 157.”
The law permits anyone to file a complaint against a dog if the dog is believed to be dangerous or a nuisance.
Hirschler, who reports to Assistant Town Manager Eric Heideman, declined comment.
Heideman confirmed Lola’s death.
“Here in Westford we have a 24 hour leash law,” Heideman said. The dogs were placed under quarantine for 10 days, ending April 26, when Animal Control Officers John Greenhalge and Hirschler are expected to go to the dogs’ home, take photos and see if the animals have identification chips. The purpose is to make sure the dogs are not showing signs of rabies, said Heideman.
Selectman Chairman Mark Kost declined comment until after the hearing takes place.
Video by Patty Stocker
Continue Reading Below
Where the Dogs Live
The two dogs live at 10 Wilson Farm Road, owned by Jill Gallagher. They were last registered in 2017 to Haley Gallagher, said Heideman.
There are two chihuahuas also living inside the home, he added.
Lola lived at 16 Wilson Farm Road with the Belin family: parents, Evgeni Belin and Polina Kuklina, Michael Kuklin (no “a”), Daniel Belin, 10, and Marie Belin, 8.
According to police reports, the alleged attack took place at 8:23 p.m. on April 17 in the vicinity of 10 Wilson Farm Road when Michael was out walking Lola.
Michael was unable to pull the dogs off of Lola, though he tried, according to Evgeni.
Now Michael worries over what he might have done differently.
“Every day he comes out with ‘if only I had done (such and such), Lola would be alive,’” said Evgeni.
Eleven-year-old Lola was a “very lively dog,” said Evgeni. “She was a family member,” he added. “It’s unbelievable. I can’t believe she’s gone.”
Hard Luck, Lola
This was not the first time dogs living at 10 Wilson Farm Road attacked Lola. A police report dated June 1, 2016, described an attack on May 31, 2016, by two pit bulls at around 6 p.m. This time Polina was walking Lola. As she and the dog passed in front of 10 Wilson Farm Road, two dogs advanced across the yard onto the street and one dog attacked the poodle. Lola got bitten but survived.
Gallagher did not return calls seeking comment and did not answer the door when a reporter knocked, although a dog could be seen barking from inside the front door.
Evgeni has lived on the street with his family since 2015. He claims the police reports about Gallagher and her dogs date back to 2011. A package of police reports, beginning in 2016, show a steady stream of neighbors’ complaints about Gallagher’s dogs.
After the dogs were finished with Lola, a police report stated that Gallagher opened the front door and let them inside the house. When Westford Patrolman Gregory D. Burns spoke with her that night, she said she’d heard the commotion of the dogs attacking and she’d heard yelling, but had not witnessed anything.
State law lists the process by which authorities can respond to a complaint of dangerousness. It says, in part,
“If the hearing authority deems a dog a dangerous, the hearing authority shall order one or more of the following:
- that the dog be humanely restrained;…
- that the dog be confined to the premises of the keeper of the dog;
- that when removed from the premises of the owner or the premises of the person keeping the dog, the dog shall be securely and humanely muzzled and restrained with a chain or other tethering device having a minimum tensile strength of 300 pounds and not exceeding 3 feet in length.”
- that the owner or keeper of the dog provide proof of insurance in an amount not less than $100,000 insuring the owner or keeper against any claim, loss, damage or injury to persons, domestic animals or property resulting from the acts…
- that the owner or keeper of the dog provide to the licensing authority or animal control officer or other entity identified in the order, information by which a dog may be identified…
- that unless an owner or keeper of the dog provides evidence that a veterinarian is of the opinion the dog is unfit for alterations because of a medical condition, the owner or keeper of the dog shall cause the dog to be altered so that the dog shall not be reproductively intact; or
- that the dog be humanely euthanized.
Heideman said selectmen can choose to impose any of the law’s requirements at any time.
Evgeni is worried that a greater tragedy is forthcoming.
Referring to Michael’s experience, Evgeni said,“there’s a clear and present danger and you’re putting kids at the forefront of it.”
UPDATE — Comments made by Assistant Town Manager Eric Heideman were added to this story and the spelling of Evgeni’s name was corrected on April 25. Also changed was a sentence stating another set of dogs had attacked Lola in 2016. According Evgeni, the dogs that attacked Lola in 2016 were the same dogs who killed her on April 17.