'We have to do something'
Rick Rehmert gingerly walked past a house on Vine St. in Peabody, hoping not to wake a dog asleep in the yard.
“Let a sleeping dog lie, right?” he said. “I walked very quietly on the other side of the road, as far away as I could get. I got past the property, and the dog woke up and barked.
“About a few seconds later, he bit me. Then he bit me a second time.”
As the dog came at him again, Rehmert said, he kicked it in the throat.
“That took his breath away, and he ceased attacking me,” Rehmert, pastor at Gracepoint Church in Peabody, said. “I don’t think he would have stopped.”
That was around Labor Day last year.
The dog bit him behind the knee on one leg and above his ankle on his other leg.
“I went to the doctor and I had it stitched up,” he said.
The wounds took months to heal.
He remembers that he didn’t need to call police that day because an officer already was on the block. The dog had bitten another man and tried to attack the officer.
Rehmert was the dog’s third target that day, he said.
A week ago Sunday, one of the dogs at the home — Rehmert thinks it was the same dog — was out loose again, he said.
He warned people at his church. Children weren’t allowed to go outside unless they were with their parents.
Peabody resident Rick Depler spoke about the dogs at Monday’s city council meeting. Four dogs are thought to live at the house — two in the front and two in a pen in the back.
Two dogs were chained in the front yard Tuesday — one to a garage and one to a tree. Both dogs barked at a Record reporter who decided not to enter the yard to try to speak to the dogs’ owners. County property records appear to indicate the owner of the home doesn’t live there.
“It’s sad we have a situation where people can’t walk and be safe,” Depler told council members. “What happens if one of our children or elderly gets attacked?
“We have to do something.”
Council members shook their heads in agreement.
But they also were straight with Depler.
While the city has ordinances about loose dogs, it doesn’t have any police officers to enforce those rules, and its animal control officer is on medical leave.
“I agree with you,” council president Catherine Weems told Depler. “We all agree with you.”
She asked Depler whether he would be willing to serve on a committee to dive into dog problems.
He said he would.
“We have to do something,” he said.
Depler added that he had two dogs and understood that people loved their pets.
“I don’t want anyone to not have their pets,” he said, but they need to be responsible.
Allowing dogs to run loose is against city ordinances. So are dogs who bark constantly or are vicious.
Letter carriers have been affected by loose dogs. The same has happened in Marion. A dog earlier this month bit a 17-year-old girl in the 400 block of S. Lincoln St.
“When it has been determined such an animal is vicious, the animal shall be destroyed upon orders of the animal control officer or confined in a manner and location approved by the animal control officer,” a Peabody ordinance states.
“We have laws. They’re not being enforced. That’s a concern,” Rehmert said.
Depler said he planned to continue to follow up with the city.
“I’ll be back on a regular basis,” he said. “My fear is someone is going to get seriously hurt.”
Last modified March 1, 2023