DISABLED AIR FORCE VETERAN GEORGE BOYNTON'S DOG, MYRIAH, is led out of the the Coastal Humane Society in Brunswick on Wednesday. The dog was seized by the West Bath Animal Control officer on Dec. 2 after a neighbor said the animal had become “aggressive” during several encounters last fall and at one point bit his small dog on the back of the neck.

DISABLED AIR FORCE VETERAN GEORGE BOYNTON’S DOG, MYRIAH, is led out of the the Coastal Humane Society in Brunswick on Wednesday. The dog was seized by the West Bath Animal Control officer on Dec. 2 after a neighbor said the animal had become “aggressive” during several encounters last fall and at one point bit his small dog on the back of the neck.

WEST BATH

A disabled Air Force veteran was reunited with his “emotional support dog” Wednesday after a district court judge ruled that while the animal did bite another dog and technically is “dangerous,” the bite did not break the skin and “may well have been out of exuberance rather than aggressiveness.”

The dog — originally thought to be a wolf hybrid — was seized 3 1/2 months ago by West Bath Animal Control Officer Todd Stead, but 61- year-old George Boynton picked her up Wednesday at Coastal Humane Society in Brunswick and headed home to West Bath.

“I’m overjoyed to have my baby girl back,” Boynton said. “It’s been desolately empty.”

On Monday, West Bath District Court Judge Beth Dobson found Boynton guilty of three civil violations, including keeping a dangerous dog, but not guilty of keeping an unlicensed wolf hybrid.

During trial Monday, a neighbor of Boynton’s told Dobson that on several occasions last fall, Boynton’s son, Marc Boynton, had been walking the dog, Myriah, off a leash when Myriah became aggressive and on one occasion had bitten his beagle mix on the scruff of its neck.

Veterinarian Julie Greenlaw, who lives in the same neighborhood, testified Monday that she went to the neighbor’s home after the most serious attack and found a “raised area … that was sensitive.”

Greenlaw also said Boynton’s pet previously “chased” her while she was running and “made me a little uncomfortable.”

Announcing her verdict Monday, Dobson said the dog’s behavior warranted her being classified as “dangerous” but noted “it was certainly one of the lesser dangerous dog [findings].”

On Wednesday, Dobson ruled Myriah is a malamute and ordered her returned to Boynton.

According to Dobson’s written order, Boynton must hold Myriah in a secure, locked enclosure for two years from when she was seized in December. The enclosure must be built within 60 days, unless frozen ground prevents it.

When Myriah is outside the secured enclosure, she must be securely muzzled and restricted by a tether not more than 3 feet in length, according to the order.

Sagadahoc County Assistant District Attorney Jonathan Liberman told reporters the outcome “takes into account fairness for Myriah and is a happy ending for all.”

Dobson determined that Boynton believed Myriah was a wolf hybrid when he bought her in 2011 and made “reasonable” attempts to register the dog as such with the state.

Dobson ordered Boynton to pay only $750 of the $2,349 cost of caring for her since Dec. 2 because she found Myriah’s presumed status as a wolf hybrid presumably was what brought her to the attention of animal control and what resulted in her being seized.

“In the court’s experience, seizure orders are not routinely sought in dangerous dog cases involving ‘dogs,’ in the absence of a serious injury of an animal,” she wrote.

“The judge … recognized the prejudice some people in this state have against wolf hybrids as the reason she was seized in the first place and not quarantined,” Boynton’s attorney, Randy Robinson, said.

Boynton praised Dobson for being “extremely understanding” and said he’s determined to keep Myriah contained, even though “she’s been my little miss Houdini before, and I don’t expect that to change any time soon.”

According to Boynton, Myriah has been certified by a physician at Togus Veterans Administration as an “emotional support animal.” He said Wednesday that, while he uses a wheelchair, he is not confined to one. He was able to walk into West Bath Town Hall following Monday’s trial and register Myriah as a domestic malamute mix.

“I simply want to assure the court that we think this is a serious matter, and we will do everything the court asks us to do that is humanly possible,” Boynton said, speaking directly to Dobson at Wednesday’s hearing on Myriah’s fate. “Myriah is like a child to me, and I would not allow my children to hurt anyone else.”

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