Invisible dog fences at issue

City Council considering proposal to tighten pet control requirement


LACONIA — Lawyers will draft an ordinance for City Council consideration that would tighten requirements on how dogs should be confined.

Under the proposal, owners would need to be with their dog if the animal was not behind a fence or on a tether.

The idea is to crack down on dogs that charge out from yards, sometimes running through an invisible electric fence, to attack other dogs or people.

A council committee agreed Monday to have the ordinance drafted, with Councilors Ava Doyle and Armand Bolduc in favor and Councilor David Bownes against.

There is already a law against an owner allowing a dog to run free and cause a nuisance, but this ordinance would take that a step further and seek to have owners take preventative steps to keep their animals on their property.

Police Lt. Michael Finogle told the committee that “it's not with great frequency; however, we do get dogs -at-large complaints once in a while, but very rarely does it involve an attack on a human.”

Marc Burrell, who complains that dogs sometimes charge him when he is walking his pit bull, asked for the new restrictions.

Doyle said she understands his concerns about the shortcomings of invisible fence systems, which utilize an underground wire that can activate a device on a dog’s collar. The device beeps when the animal approaches the wire and delivers an electric shock when the dog gets too close. Most dogs learn to stay away from the barrier, but the system isn't foolproof.

“Dogs in yards with an invisible fence, they will sometimes bust loose because they are after a chipmunk or a squirrel and one of my big fears is a dog that has a really strong prey drive might go after a child who's in the street walking or riding a bicycle,” Doyle said. “Everybody says, 'Oh my dog doesn't bite,' but all dogs will bite given the right circumstances.”

Burrell said he and his dog were attacked by a golden Labrador retriever that charged out of its yard, which had an invisible fence.

“He knew its boundaries and went right through it,” Burrell said. “He didn't care; came right off its property.”

Bownes said he couldn't support an overly restrictive ordinance that would affect well-behaved dogs, like one in his neighborhood that is good about staying in an unfenced yard.

“Lots of people have dogs that stay right in their yards,” he said. “We can't make ordinances that make the city foolproof against all injuries or harm. We just don't have the power or the gift to do that.”

Gun, broken window in Wolfeboro road rage case

WOLFEBORO — After smashing the window of a truck, a man who told police he did it was arrested and charged with criminal mischief and reckless operation.

Wolfeboro Central Dispatch has received a call regarding a road rage type of incident on Friday, Aug. 25, which escalated to an altercation at Citizens Bank, according to a press release. The caller said a man on a motorcycle had punched the window to his Toyota Tacoma, breaking it. The suspect left the scene, but then returned to the bank parking lot, where Sgt. Maloney had spoken to the victim and a witness.

Reid Patten, 34, of Wolfeboro stated that he wanted to own up to what he did, apologized, and said that a gun was pointed at him by the driver of the truck. The truck driver was questioned about the gun, and told police he had pulled his gun out, though it was holstered, and never pointed it at Patten, according to the release.

Patten was brought to the Wolfeboro Police Department, processed, and released with a court date of Oct. 4.

08 30 Reid Patten

Reid Patten

Bird's nest causes city house fire

LACONIA — A bird's nest near a light bulb is thought to have started a fire at 25 Overland St. on Saturday.

Laconia, Gilford and Belmont fire departments were sent to the scene when a call at 10:36 p.m. to 911 asked for a fire extinguisher and then went dead. Laconia police arrived first, according to Fire Chief Kenneth Erickson, and reported that there was fire in e in the living ceiling and that all occupants were out of the house. A neighbor from the next apartment had done a great job of knocking down the flames with a garden hose, said Erickson.

Firefighters were able to put the fire out after opening the ceiling bay. Erickson said the fire is thought to have started on the front porch from an outside light. A bird's nest ignited and flames spread to the underside of the porch ceiling, into the livingroom ceiling, and eventually into the attic.

No one was hurt. Damage is estimated at $25,000.