GUILFORD, CT — One of the biggest controversies for almost two years in Guilford has been the fate of a 70-pound, nine-year-old pitbull mix named Simon who was on “death row” at the Guilford Police Animal Shelter for biting a teenager.
David Young, the dog’s owner and a legion of Simon’s supporters, waged a massive publicity campaign to free the dog from the shelter. Young also appealed the town’s decision to euthanize the dog to the state Department of Agriculture.
The story had a happy ending — sort of — late last week when the dog was freed from the shelter and taken to a home, not in Guilford, but in the state of Michigan. It was an agreement worked out between the town and Young.
On Friday, as word started circulating around Guilford that Simon was no longer at the shelter, Guilford Police Lt. Timothy Bernier released the following statement: “On June 20, 2019, the Municipal Animal Control Officer of the Town of Guilford released Simon the dog to the Devoted Friends Animal Society, Inc., after ownership of the dog was transferred to this Michigan-based organization. The pending appeal with the Department of Agriculture is expected to be withdrawn and the dog will not be returned to the state of Connecticut.”
Attempts to reach Young were unsuccessful, reportedly because he and his family were in the process of driving Simon to Michigan to take the dog to his new home. A friend of Young, who asked not to be identified, cautioned this reporter, however: “Don’t call this a happy ending — Simon isn’t coming home.”
Guilford First Selectman Matt Hoey said the settlement was reached “to try and be fair to all parties and put this issue behind us.”
Hoey estimated that the town has spent close to $40,000 in legal fees in Simon’s case so far.
The incident that caused Simon to be removed from Young’s home dates back to August 2017.
A police report states that Simon bit and chased a 13-year-old neighbor who entered Young’s yard with a lacrosse stick to retrieve his ball.
The boy needed stitches.
Young says that Simon was just protecting his property.
But the police report said Simon had another incident, this time with another dog, six months earlier. The report also cited complaints from several neighbors who claimed they walk the neighborhood with sticks because Simon gets out of the yard.
Young has refuted those reports.
Young, his lawyer Thom Page, and a small band of Simon’s supporters have habitually attended selectmen meetings over the past year to plead Simon’s case.
The decision to euthanize the dog was made before Hoey became first selectman.
The decision was made after hearing testimony from Young, the victim, and some of Young’s neighbors, and police reports were reviewed.
Young has been trying to make a case to reverse the verdict over the past year by reaching out to media outlets, establishing a GoFundMe page, hiring a lawyer versed in animal law and a New York-based media relations agency, encouraging residents to speak out, and establishing a social media page.
Besides attending selectmen meetings, Simon’s supporters also held rallies, protests, fundraisers, press conferences, and also paid thousands of dollars for a billboard that sits off Interstate 95 in East Haven saying: “Help Save Simon & Your Beloved Dogs From Guilford Politicians.”