TAUNTON, Mass. (WPRI) — Six dogs are now considered dangerous and will be “humanely euthanized” after mauling a woman and killing her dog last month, Taunton Police Chief Edward Walsh ruled on Tuesday.
The pit bulls, ranging in age from one and a half to four years, have been held at Taunton Animal Control since the attack as they await their fate.
“You guys need to do what you need to do,” owner Rolando Celado said at a public hearing about his dogs’ fate. “It shouldn’t have happened. I really am sorry.”
The victim of the attack, Rochelle Silva, arrived at the hearing with her daughter and attorney, assisted by a walker. She has been recuperating at a rehabilitation facility in West Bridgewater.
“I’m happy with the outcome,” Silva said after the hearing. “He was irresponsible. He can’t have all those dogs and not have proper crating, gating, he was just irresponsible. And it was too bad, because the dogs have to suffer.”
Police said Silva, 51, was walking her dog Ace on Broadway on April 24 when she was attacked by the dogs, who were apparently trying to get to Ace.
The first officer on scene said the dogs “viciously” bit and mauled her, and he was unable to shoot the dogs because they were on top of Silva. He went back to his cruiser and used his sirens and air horn to try and distract the dogs as owner Rolando Celado also attempted to lure them away from Silva.
She was ultimately helped into the cruiser as Celado corralled the dogs, and was transported to Rhode Island Hospital when an ambulance arrived.
“I thought I was going to die,” Silva said. “I felt every bite.”
She said as she lost blood, she saw the EMTs’ faces fading above her.
Graphic photos provided by police show chunks of flesh ripped from Silva’s legs, the wounds bleeding.
Multiple witnesses testified at the hearing including Officer Mathieu Clifford, a witness named Paula Svedine, and Animal Control Officer Manuel Massa.
“We saw a lady running across the street, screaming,” Svedine recalled. “We saw the dogs attacking her.” She said her husband David tried to help the officer and the dog owner get the dogs away from Silva, and David was bitten in the process.
Massa testified that the four of the dogs in particular have been aggressive since their arrival at the animal control shelter two weeks ago.
“If you’re going to put them down, at least let me be there,” Celado said. “If I have to pay, I’ll pay.”
“I have no choice but to make the opinion that the dogs are dangerous dogs,” Chief Walsh said. “It’s an unfortunate situation. Based upon the facts as presented to me, I’m making the determination that the dogs be humanely euthanized.”
After the hearing, an emotional Celado again took responsibility for the attack. He said he recently moved to Taunton from Boston and was still working on putting up a fence before getting a kennel license from the city.
“I’m sorry what happened to Ms. Silva,” he said. “I blame myself for what happened.”
He started to cry when reciting the names of the dogs: Bella, King, Nova, Bailey and Tiny. He became too emotional to name the sixth dog. “I’m sorry, I can’t. I need to go,” he said as he walked out of the hearing room.
Celado can appeal the decision to district court within 10 days. He is also being cited for having unlicensed dogs, violating the city’s leash law, and failing to get a kennel license to board more than four dogs.
Separately, Silva is questioning Officer Clifford’s actions on the scene of the attack, telling reporters he didn’t adequately try to help her while she was being attacked.
“He did not get out to open the door and put me in the car,” Silva said.
While the police report says Clifford “and another pedestrian” helped Silva into the car to escape the dogs, she says it was only Celado who helped her.
“He yelled for the officer to unlock the car,” Silva said of Celado. “When he heard the click, he ran to the car and he put me in.”
Lt. Eric Nichols, the public information officer for the Taunton Police, said the department believes Clifford’s actions were fully appropriate and the investigation is closed.