Dog Bites at Washburn

            There were two dog bites at Washburn Park, and Marion Board of Health members have asked Health Director Lori Desmarais to send out an e-blast warning the public and dog owners to take notice and precautions.

            During the board’s September 7 public meeting, Desmarais said a person riding a bicycle was bit and then a runner was bit. Both incidents happened at the end of August. Desmarais said she is not sure if the same dog was the culprit. The owner of the dog went over to the bike-riding victim, and the victim was not aware that skin was broken so the incident was not immediately reported.

            Desmarais said there have been 10 dog-bites reported to the Marion Board of Health in 2023. The other eight occurred on private property.

            There is no leash law in town, and Desmarais said with rabies vaccinations high, there is a low risk of rabies.

            As long as the dog is owned by a resident and is up-to-date with its rabies vaccination status, there is no need for prophylactic treatments. However, Desmarais said, if someone is bitten by a dog, that person must identify the dog and owner and make sure the animal is rabies-vaccinated. That biting dog must be quarantined for 10 days, according to Desmarais.

            Acknowledging there is no leash law in Marion, board members said it is common for unleashed dogs to be at Washburn Park. Desmarais said she believes that both dogs were not leashed. “The idea of a leash law in Marion would go over like a lead balloon,” Board of Health Chairman Ed Hoffer said.

            Desmarais said, so far, there have been no Eastern Equine Encephalitis cases or West Nile Virus in Marion this year. There has been one human West Nile Virus case from someone in eastern Massachusetts and another human case in Middlesex County. No animal cases have been reported for either disease, but 107 mosquitoes statewide have tested positive for West Nile Virus.

            Desmarais said people should still take precautions such as wearing longer sleeves and pants at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active. They should also limit activities around that time.

            Health Agent Shallyn Rodriguez reported that owners of 28 Pitcher Street have made progress on cleaning up the property and the main building. Pest traps have also been replaced. She said there is still a boat, shed and cottage in disrepair and will conduct a reinspection.

            A similar property at 8 Pie Alley will be reinspected, and Rodriguez should have an update at the board’s next meeting.

            The board also discussed its pool regulations. Per the state, if someone has an electronic pool cover that one can walk over, a fence is not required.

            Citing a past drowning, board members said they are happy with the fence regulation. They asked Desmarais to gather more data, including how other communities are handling this regulation.

            The board continued a hearing and approved a variance for a septic tank and leaching field at 25 West Avenue. The applicant moved the proposed system farther from adjacent property lines and will install a denitrification system, which will require an annual inspection.

            The next meeting of the Marion Board of Health is scheduled for Thursday, September 21, at 4:00 pm at the Police Station.

Marion Board of Health

By Jeffrey D. Wagner

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