EXCLUSIVE: Carolyn Rice told CLIFFVIEW PILOT that her pet pitchow will likely be put down after severely biting her Westwood neighbor’s leg during an argument between the two women.
The one thing that could save Jay Jay, who was seized by Bergen County Animal Control officers after sending 58-year-old Antonia Triglia to the hospital, was proof that he wasn’t provoked.
But Rice herself rejected that theory.
“I’ve asked her repeatedly not to come near the dog and not to fight with me,” she told CLIFFVIEW PILOT tonight. “That’s why she got bit.
“He went after me one time, but he usually goes after her when she fights with me.”
Triglia, who was taken to Hackensack University Medical Center earlier today, couldn’t be reached for comment tonight. A message was left on her home voicemail.
The Roxbury Condominium Association has repeatedly told Rice that she couldn’t keep Jay Jay in her home. That demand was emphatically repeated late last summer, after a county SWAT team and K9 unit were dispatched to the complex.
Rice, a nutritionist by trade, was throwing furniture and other items out her third-floor window when Westwood police arrived the morning of Aug 4, Westwood Police Chief Frank Regino said at the time.
Her refusal to open the door, along with the knowledge that Jay Jay was inside, was enough for the chief to request both specialized squads from the Bergen County Police Department.
The SWAT team eventually forced open the door, and two K9 officers removed Jay Jay without incident.
Rice, 63, meanwhile, was brought to Bergen Regional Medical Center.
It wasn’t the first time such an escort was required, according to police records. None of the incidents involved criminal behavior, however, so no charges were filed, Regino said.
“Chief Regino is full of [expletive],” Rice countered. “He doesn’t even know anything about me. He is an [expletive].”
After being released from Bergen Regional, Rice retrieved Jay Jay and made other arrangements for him, at one point leaving him in her car with the air conditioning on, Regino told CLIFFVIEW PILOT. But that clearly wouldn’t suffice, so she turned to her neighbor.
Triglia feeds the deer, Canada geese and various other wild animals who gather on her property, often making their way from the nearby Pascack Brook. She also has dogs of her own.
Triglia and Rice, once friends, tended to several Moscovy ducks who showed up a couple of years ago. Rice said Tiglia later agreed to keep Jay Jay there on a leash.
They’ve been arguing lately, however.
“She keeps garbage on her lawn, all summer and all winter,” Rice told CLIFFVIEW PILOT. “After four days or so of it stinking in the sun, I try to take it off. Then she has a hissy fit. So we fight.”
It happened again around 9 a.m. Monday, she said, when she went to her neighbor’s house to feed Jay Jay, who was chained in the backyard.
“There was a big tin like you would cook lasagne in that sat on the lawn for four days. It had water melon rinds in it, candy,” Rice said. “I was trying to pick it up when she came out. It’s her property, but it’s against the law to have garbage on the lawn.”
Rice said she was “not surprised” by Jay Jay’s reaction. Triglia’s leg “is seriously injured,” she said.
Triglia was taken to Hackensack University Medical Center with what Regino said was a “severe” leg injury.
Bergen County Animal Control Supervisor was notified and impounded Jay Jay at the agency’s Teterboro shelter.
“If I can’t find another place for him to go, that will be the end of him,” Rice told CLIFFVIEW PILOT.
It won’t really be her decision, however.
“Official notification will be made in writing and sent to the Westwood Municipal Court, the Health Department and by registered mail to the owner,” Joseph Appio, a spokesman for County Executive Kathleen Donovan, told CLIFFVIEW PILOT Monday afternoon.
“The owner then has options” under New Jersey’s Vicious and Potentially Dangerous Dog Act, he said.
“She can request a hearing. She could relinquish ownership and leave it to the courts to decide, in which case the dog will most likely be destroyed,” Appio said. “If she refuses to accept receipt of the letter, Harris would inform the judge, and the dog would be destroyed.”
Either way, Rice has until June 11 to respond through certified mail, under the law’s provisions.
New Jersey authorizes animal control officers to impound any dog who harms a human or other animal in an unprovoked act, under the provisions of the act. Bodily injury is defined as “physical pain, illness or any impairment of physical condition.”
The owner must then argue in court against charges that the dog is either vicious or potentially dangerous. Animal control officers, meanwhile, bear the burden of proving the attack wasn’t provoked.
Even if it’s a first offense, dogs who are judged vicious are put down.
Those found potentially dangerous must be specially licensed, muzzled, walked on special leashes and kept in specifically designed (and costly) enclosures. A judge might also require an owner to obtain special insurance, which is also pricey — and difficult to get.
Informed of this by CLIFFVIEW PILOT, Rice said she will decide what to do once she receives the letter.