TOWNSEND — Following the tragic death of the 7-year-old boy who was killed by a dog in Lunenburg, Animal Control Officer Kathleen Comeau has decided to speak out about dog safety.
The child, Connor B. Lourens, was killed by a 13-month-old English Mastiff owned by a neighbor. The tragedy occurred Saturday on Easter Brook Road at the house where the animal lived, according to Comeau. After the attack, the dog was euthanized.
”All of the tests on the dog came back negative. The shots were all up to date,” Comeau said.
”(The attack was) very unfortunate. I have never been called to Easter Brook Road on any dog complaints in the entire time the development has been there,” she said.
Comeau has been an animal control officer since 1976, covering the towns of Townsend, Lunenburg and Pepperell, to name a few.
All dogs have the potential to harm someone, whether it be a child or adult, said Comeau, a self-proclaimed animal lover and owner.
”I hear repeatedly from people in all the towns I cover that their dog would never attack or bite anyone,” she said. “I try to tell people that no matter what breed of dog you may have, it is still an animal … No matter how cute or lovable it can attack or bite.”
A Mastiff is one of the heaviest of breeds, being large, powerful and muscular. The head is heavy and square with a short muzzle, and it usually has a black mask around the eyes and nose.
Originally, the Mastiff was valued for its abilities as a fierce guard and fighting dog, but today’s breed is considered a gentle giant.
”Again, I never got any calls about this animal,” she said.
The animal weighed about 150 pounds at the time of the attack, said Comeau.
”They are an incredibly large breed,” she said.
Comeau could not comment on what provoked the attack.
”We will never know why the animal did what it did. The animal knew the child, but sometimes the instinct of the wild animal comes out, and we have no idea why,” she said. “That is why everyone has to be diligent especially when children are around a dog. It does not matter what kind of dog, all dogs are capable of biting or attacking for no apparent reason.”
Animals of substantial size are imposing figures especially to smaller children, said Comeau. Parents and dog owners have to be mindful when the two are together.
”A dog can turn for no apparent reason. We do not know what goes on in their heads. I want people to be aware that an animal is an animal all of the time,” she said. “Small children have to be constantly watched when in the presence of any dog.”
In her years as an animal control officer, Comeau said she has received kudos, as well as rudeness from the general public.
”If I get a call, it’s because there is a problem with an animal. I never know what I’m going to see when I get there,” she said. “I always do what is best for everyone concerned, and in this case, it was to euthanized the dog.”
As animal control officer, Comeau deals with everything from dogs, bears, raccoons and any other type of wildlife in the area.
”I’ve gotten calls about bears in back yards, dog issues, and hurt animals,” she said.
Town Clerk Daniel Murphy had high praises for Comeau concerning her work in Townsend.
”I have always found Kathy to be extremely compassionate with animals and the people involved. If she gets involved in something, it is because there is a problem, and in that situation, no one sees eye to eye on the issue,” Murphy said. “There are going to be differences of opinions in these circumstances. I know Kathy is not a big fan of euthanizing any animal, but she does what has to be done. She is an excellent animal control officer. We appreciate all of her work in Townsend.”
Comeau has been the animal control officer in Townsend since 1993.
When cautioning parents on different types of dogs, Comeau does not single out any particular breed or size out. However, she does caution parents to always be on their guard when an animal is present.
”The thing is, a larger dog has more power to knock a child over. A small dog can’t necessarily do that, but it is still an animal that can bite a child,” she said. “A dog is a dog, no matter what size it is.”
Comeau expressed her deepest condolences to the families that were involved in Saturday’s tragedy.
”It is a very sad and tragic situation that happened at that home, and my heart goes out to both families,” she said. “We will never know why the dog did what he did to that little boy. I wish I had some answers for them.”