Newfoundland dogs not dangerous: owners

Ashley Fitzpatrick
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The Newfoundland Club of America is speaking out in defence of the breed following reports of two of the dogs fatally attacking a black Labrador in the U.S. last week. — Stock photo

The Newfoundland Club of America, an association of Newfoundland dog breeders and owners, has come to the defence of the breed, weighing in on the negative characterization that has followed a dog attack in the state of Connecticut.

“We are all extremely saddened by this incident,” club vice-president Pam Saunders has told The Telegram. “This is not typical behaviour for our breed. The Newfoundland is known as the ‘gentle giant’ and rightfully so. I have owned Newfoundlands for over 30 years and this is the first time I have ever heard of an incident like this.“

Local news reports have differed in their accounts of the dog attack, but four Newfoundland dogs were being walked on Monday, July 25 in Jackson Cove Park in Oxford, Conn.

There, it has been reported, at least two of the dogs pulled away from the person walking them and attacked a black Labrador. The Labrador, an 11-year-old named Roxy, died from the injuries she sustained, after being rushed to an animal hospital by her owner, Patrick Severson.

On camera with local WTNH “News 8,” Severson said he was injured trying to pull the Newfoundlands off his dog.

“My hand was really swelled up from hitting the dogs so much,” he said.

“He did the best he could and the dogs were huge,” a town parks employee, Katelyn Greene, said in the same report. “I mean I don’t want to say that he didn’t have a chance, but he tried everything that he could.”

Some news outlets have reported all four of the Newfoundland dogs attacked the Labrador. Others have said only two were involved.

Regardless, all four have since been taken from their owner by Oxford Animal Control.

According to local news reports, the dogs’ owner has since turned herself in to state police.

Vickie Tkacz, 37, has been charged with the following misdemeanors: one count of obstructing the duty of an animal control officer, two counts of failure to obey a quarantine order, four counts of allowing dogs to roam and four counts of animal nuisance.

“The behaviour of the Newfoundland dogs in this incident is absolutely not typical of the breed. In fact, ‘sweetness of temperament’ is the hallmark of the breed and its most important single characteristic,” president of the Newfoundland Club of America, Patrick Randall, said in a news release Monday.

“Also as owners and breeders it goes without saying that we are horrified that dogs of any breed, but especially Newfoundlands, would display this behaviour and be so out of control that this could happen. The breeders and owners of these dogs are not associated with the Newfoundland Club of America.”

Organizations: Newfoundland Club of America, The Telegram

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Connecticut, Jackson Cove Park Oxford, Conn.

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Recent comments

  • Corinne
    August 18, 2011 - 19:15

    There is more to this story..... These either are not Newfies or there is some fabrication going on here.... What was labs temperament and how folks handled the situation will dictate how the dogs react... Newfies do not have an evil bone in their body they can make a lot of noise but that is it.... There is more to this story and these dogs should not be killed until all is known...

  • clare
    August 03, 2011 - 23:28

    I am the owner of two beautiful brown male Newfoundlands, one recently passed from cancer. NEVER have I seen my boys, or any newfie be so brutal and aggressive. I was sickened and shocked. Was this a back yard breeder? Were her dogs trained and well cared for? Why were "children" walking four dogs alone? Where is the rest of this story? I am heartbroken for the 11 year old lab and her owner, and they deserve to know what happened here. These Newfoundlands NEED to be put down, this is NOT in the breed to do this, it is the exact opposite of our breed to do something so horrific. Please get the rest of the story out, arrest this breeder, and clean out her "back yard business" before some other tragic event occurs.

  • Newfoundlander
    August 02, 2011 - 12:40

    The last time I saw a similar news report, the dog owner was later charged with animal abuse and running dog-fighting for profit on a very laege scale. The media only reported the dog attack, and not the follow-up police report.

  • stormyweather
    August 02, 2011 - 11:58


  • Central Gal
    August 02, 2011 - 10:38

    I'm over 50 years old and have been around alot of Newfoundland dogs but never have I seen one of those dogs get out of control like that. Out of all the breeds out there I still Love the Newfoundland Dog the best and I still think they are the gentle giants of the world. I have to agree with a few ppl on here though it probably was the owner of those dogs. Its a shame that years ago there was only a handful of licensed dog breeders who knew EXACTLY what they were at but unfortunately now-a-days anyone who wants to earn a few bucks but hasn't got a clue about raising pups can still become a dog breeder!!!

  • newf
    August 02, 2011 - 10:04

    I've heard that alot of these dogs get returned . i don't know if it's aggression problems or just too much work for them to handle.

  • de-nile
    August 02, 2011 - 10:00

    Not all Newfs are good ,I know of several that have been less than Gentle Giants . these dogs are being bred right ,left and center.. too many of them...

  • Mark
    August 02, 2011 - 09:25

    Sometimes dogs of all breeds just act crazy. It has nothing to do with the owners or the overall breed, they're just crazy dogs. I hate how it always has to be either the breed is bad or the owners are bad owners. It isn't that clear cut. Sometimes, like humans, individual dogs skitz out and do bad things regardless of how good the owners are.

  • Tcomment
    August 02, 2011 - 09:05

    I do want to comment that there are so many factors that come into play with an attack like this. I doubt it had anything to do with a particular breed. Were the dogs spayed or neutered? Were the dogs socialized with other animals outside their own pack? Were the dogs properly bred? It's a fact- that imbreeding causes problems within an animal, including behavior and temperment issues. Dogs that are large breeds and strong only get a bad reputation after attacks because they can do more damage then a small dog. It's not fair to categorize them by breed. I feel very strongly that in years to come more people will realize that bringing this up as a breed issue is the same as if someone commit a crim and they made it a race or ethnicity issue. It's not true, it's not right, and you shouldn't do it.

  • Me
    August 02, 2011 - 08:21

    I can hear the Labrador separatist(s) now, "I told you so, we need to separate from Newfoundland now".

    • Beverley Rowe
      August 02, 2011 - 11:34

      I would have a problem with Labrador separating from Newfoundland! What would I call my dog, who is part Newfoundland & part Chocolate Lab???? Right now I call her the "original" Nl & Lab dog!!

  • LA
    August 02, 2011 - 08:06

    I've always known Newfoundland dogs to be very gentle. They're one of the larger breeds that most people feel no intimidation from because they're so calm, and mild mannered. It is sad that another dog was injured, and I'm not disregarding that, but it bothers me when people think because of one instance that they're a bad breed. I agree that bad dogs have a lot to do with bad owners. It's a good thing people aren't viewed that way. A man murdered someone...humankind must be a bad even though the number of good people far outweigh the bad. I know that's an extreme comparison, but I feel that it's an accurate one.

  • Wescol
    August 02, 2011 - 08:02

    My Labrador was attacked by two Newfoundlands in Outer Cove a couple of years ago. These dogs also got away from their handlers, and came at my dog, who was on a leash. She was bitten, and was terrified by the attack, and it took some time for the Newfoundlands' handlers to get back control. I'll never trust those two dogs again, and I give them an extra wide berth when I see them coming.

  • jerry rubia
    August 02, 2011 - 07:26

    i have only once in my life and iam 38 years old , come across a newfie dog that was cross and in my mind the only thing i can think of is something had to have been done to that dog. i have been face to face with newfoundland dogs that where taller then me with their paws on my shoulders and have never had something happen to me. did the labrador go after the newfies, that hasnt been said. but even so i feel sorry for the owner of the lab cause that aint like a newfoundland to attack anyone, like the article said they would rather eat and be lazy lol then do anything else.

  • David
    August 02, 2011 - 07:25

    Finally! An incident that reveals the ugly truth! So here's the facts....there are no such thiong as bears...these are just Newfoundland dogs who got so wild and out-of-control that their owners let them loose in the wilderness....all these "bear attacks" are actually done by rogue Newfs! Finally, the truth has set me free.

  • Keith
    August 02, 2011 - 06:37

    I agree, Newfoundland Dogs are the Gentle Giants of the dog world. The problem is that people make animals bad. These dogs might have sensed some threat from the other dog or the owner. All I can say is that as a dog owner for many years, this is the first time I have heard of this about a newfoundland dog.

    • Jackson
      August 02, 2011 - 07:45

      I have never know a Newfoundland to be aggressive, as a small boy I often sat on the back of my uncle's dog, they are gentle and loving. No doubt this is the result of a neglectful owner.