EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 3, 2013

Oliver's owner: Dog who bit girl won't return home

Police say charges are unlikely

By John Toole
jtoole@eagletribune.com

---- — LONDONDERRY — The owner of Oliver, the dog who bit a 6-year-old Londonderry girl Easter Sunday, said yesterday he will never come home.

Lisa Palmieri said Oliver won’t return — to the family’s home or neighborhood — even if police release him to her.

“I couldn’t do it because of Sarah,” Palmieri said yesterday. “We can’t keep him here.”

Sarah Stewart, 6, a neighbor and South Elementary School first-grader, is recovering after Oliver bit her forehead after she fell on him while playing.

Sarah’s family said her wounds were serious, with skin torn from her forehead. She is scheduled to see a plastic surgeon this week.

“I feel bad for Sarah,” Palmieri said. “I wish it had never happened.”

Palmieri said she has provided Oliver’s vaccination records to police.

“We’re just waiting to hear,” she said.

Police are continuing to investigate, but Palmieri said police have told her charges are unlikely because she had Oliver on a leash, on her property, when the accident happened.

Londonderry police Lt. Kevin Cavallaro confirmed the incident remains under investigation.

He said the animal control officer will review the matter before a final decision. Police also plan to talk to the Stewart family.

“If the dog was on the leash, on her property, and Sarah happened to trip over the dog,” Cavallaro said, “there is not much by way of charges we can go with.”

Sarah’s father, Greg, said Monday he just wants Oliver out of the neighborhood.

Palmieri said a family friend has agreed to take Oliver, at least temporarily, should police release the dog.

She said police told her he could be quarantined up to 10 days.

“We might put Oliver on our friend’s property,” Palmieri said.

But the Palmieris also might move to a place where they could keep Oliver in a fenced yard, she said.

“We’re considering selling our townhouse,” she said.

Oliver is a mixed breed, part pit bull and Labrador retriever.

Police investigated a prior incident involving Oliver in the Winterwood Drive neighborhood.

Cavallaro said Oliver got out of the townhouse in December 2010 and bit a dog, a boxer, belonging to neighbor Deanna Sheldon.

The incident did not result in charges, but the boxer had bites to the throat, nose and lower right front leg, he said.

Sheldon said Oliver’s behavior prompted a petition to the homeowner’s association to remove the dog. But the Palmieris said the petition did not lead to action against Oliver.

Palmieri said Oliver went through a screen door and pursued Sheldon’s dog.

Police records indicated Sheldon’s dog was bitten on its own front porch, but was not leashed at the time.

The police report also said kids were running by the Palmieri townhouse at the time Oliver got out, but Oliver did not go after them.

The incident Sunday upset the close-knit neighborhood, where everyone’s kids play together, families have cookouts and, on Sunday, had an Easter egg hunt.