Newfoundland dogs not dangerous: owners

Ashley Fitzpatrick afitzpatrick@thetelegram.com
Published on August 2, 2011
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.”

afitzpatrick@thetelegram.com