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Owner of unleashed dog that attacked deer at golf course could face charges

A man whose off-leash dog at Sheridan Park Golf Course attacked and seriously injured a deer, which was then put down by Town of Tonawanda police, is under investigation by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

A town police officer responded to a report of a dog attack on a deer on the grounds of the golf course at 490 East Park Drive about 9:30 a.m. March 15.

Officer Frank Bartolotta found a witness who said he used a broom to pry off a dog that had its teeth clenched into the deer's hind leg, according to a town police report. This witness said he was driving by the golf course, which hasn't opened for the 2019 season, when he saw the dog biting the deer.

Bartolotta also talked to the owner of the dog, which had blood on its snout, neck and chest. A copy of the police report redacted the name, age and address of the dog owner.

There was a considerable amount of blood in the area, and Bartolotta walked about 1,000 feet to find the deer lying on the ground, along with more blood and fur in the grass.

When Bartolotta got within about 20 feet, the deer tried to get up and run away but it couldn't. The deer had a large gash in its left hind leg and the muscle was exposed in its right hind leg, which was dangling and couldn't be used.

Bartolotta said he shot the deer to death with his service weapon because it was clear the animal "was going to suffer and die slowly," he wrote in his report.

The owner told the officer that his dog is a hunting dog and tends to chase animals but he thought the deer was far enough away that the dog wouldn't go after it.

Bartolotta contacted DEC Police Officer Scott Marshall, who asked the town not to ticket the dog owner for violating Tonawanda's leash law. Marshall said he would pursue charging the owner with violating state environmental and conservation law that prohibits owners from allowing their dogs "to run at large in fields or woods inhabited by deer outside the limits of any city or village."

DEC spokeswoman Lori Severino said no charges have been brought but the incident remains under investigation by DEC police.

The Tonawanda police report said trespassing charges still were a possibility, though further information wasn't immediately available.


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