Arlington’s police department and animal-control officer will investigate a petition that seeks to control “incessant” barking by the eight dogs residing at 59 Thesda St., as unanimously approved by the Select Board at its Monday, Oct. 19, meeting. A preliminary report is due in three months and a final report in six months.

Selectboard logo, May 20, 2019
Training for eight dogs suggested.

Board Vice Chair Joseph Curro Jr. suggested during the 1 1/2-hour hearing formal dog training to try and control the noise issue. “We’ll look to Arlington’s animal-control officer to work with Scott Graziano,” the dogs’ owner, “on concrete steps to train the dogs and curtail their barking.” Graziano agreed that the dogs could be trained to be quieter.

Graziano's property abuts McClennen Park, off Summer Street, frequented by many Arlington residents who often bring their own dogs.

Graziano has a personal kennel license, which, according to Arlington’s bylaws, any resident with more than five dogs must have, explained Town Counsel Doug Heim. 

However, “The dogs often get loose, and one dog potentially bit a neighbor’s dog,” said police Capt. Richard Flynn, who attended the meeting. Flynn agreed to see what other communities have done for this type of problem.

From walk-through to fence

Flynn met with the property owners and did a walk-through of their property on Aug. 19. “The yard fencing was substandard, and the backyard had lots of brush and debris,” he said.

“By Oct. 9, the owners had made good progress in cleaning up their yard. They had put up a new fence, along with material so that the dogs cannot go underneath it, and put in slats to separate their yard from their neighbor’s yard. I gave them more guidance and suggested that they continue to clean up the debris, including a car, a tractor and sharp metal items,” said Flynn.

“Today I did an unannounced visit, and they continue to make significant progress. They’ve removed a lot of brush, and the tractor is off the property. There’s still a trailer in the yard, which is scheduled to be moved this week. The yard still has a lot of brush, and a landscaper is coming out tomorrow to take care of it,” added Flynn.

On Oct. 30, Flynn and town Animal Control Officer Diane Welch plan to perform a final inspection of the fence.

“This is a neighborhood issue that we need to keep on top of,” said Board member Diane Mahon.

Neighbors complain

Daniel O’Rourke, 65 Thesda St., has lived next door to Graziano for the past seven years.

O’Rourke initially asked Graziano personally to control the dogs and then asked the police to get involved. Since then, 25 people who live in close proximity signed a complaint to stop the dogs from barking whenever someone walks by their property. 

“They live next to McClennen Park, so someone’s always walking by,” said O’Rourke. “The eight dogs are not socialized, so they think everyone’s a threat and bark ferociously. This starts at 4:30 a.m., and the owners show a lack of care, which is insane.”

“We have three children. Our 7-year-old daughter sees these dogs as a threat. The dogs make every effort to come onto our property, which they eventually did, and attacked my brother-in-law’s dog,” said O’Rourke. 

“We reported this because we knew the fence was insufficient to protect us. On Oct. 3, the dogs escaped again, after they put in and reinforced their fence. If the dogs get out again, they could attack a child,” added O’Rourke. 

Graziano said that his dogs are lovable and well mannered. “My dogs are well trained, and are not out at 4:30 in the morning; they go out at the time of the town ordinance. I put in brand-new stainless-steel garage doors, and the dogs don’t get out now,” he said.

Graziano added, “Mr. O’Rourke used his dog to intimidate my dogs, and Mrs. O’Rourke bounced a rock off my dog’s head, which were caught on videotape. Mr. and Mrs. O’Rourke took me to court today for a harassment charge, requesting a restraining order. The charge was dismissed.”

Other issues raised at the Oct. 19 Select Board meeting will be reported.

 See the ACMI video of the Oct. 19 meeting:

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This news summary, by YourArlington freelance writer Susan Gilbert, was published Friday, Oct. 23, 2020.