FULL TEXT: Jankovic-Mark comments on dog bite incident

Mr. Herbst wrote a letter to me dated 10/16/12 which discusses an incident in which I was involved this past Saturday while performing volunteer work as a dog walker for the dogs living at our Trumbull Animal Shelter on Church Hill Road.

My husband, one of my sons, and I have been Trumbull Animal Group (TAG) members for some time, spending hundreds of combined hours walking and socializing these animals since our family dog, Sadie, who we had "rescued," passed away a couple of years ago.

While I share Herbst's concern for our fellow citizens and thank him for his support for TAG, his letter lacks crucial details in his interpretation of what transpired that day, basing it on limited information from Mr. [name deleted] statements and the brief police report.

Herbst makes incorrect presumptions which are not true. It is clearly not true where he states that I "did not adhere to the guidelines promulgated by the Trumbull Animal Group." I most certainly did follow our rules. I kept the dog close to me, and I put myself between [name deleted] and the dog as we passed. Therefore, I followed the guidelines which he cites and claims I did not follow. I did not purposefully "let up on the leash" as stated in the report. I had shortened the leash, holding it with two hands as the dog and I passed [name deleted]; but the dog lunged strongly, unexpectedly, and unexplainably at [name deleted] after he had passed, jerking the leash out of one of my hands but not the other, thereby there was a forced "let up" of the leash. I immediately pulled back hard and as quickly as possible so no further injury occurred.

The incident had occurred very suddenly. I said to [name deleted] that I was so sorry that the incident occurred and explained that the dog is a shelter dog. He stated that he was going to return to his daughter's house which was close by and would seek medical treatment. I said that I would return the dog to the shelter immediately and report the incident. By the time I got to the shelter with the dog, [name deleted]'s daughter was on the phone with an employee at the shelter reporting the incident, so I knew he was safely home.

Herbst's horror that I did not offer to obtain medical care immediately for [name deleted] is unwarranted since [name deleted] stated that he was going to obtain it himself and walked home, and I did not want to take any chance of there being further contact between [name deleted] and the dog. I followed all of our TAG procedures correctly.

I certainly did take all proactive steps possible that I could at the time. I took the step of returning the dog to the shelter as soon as possible and awaited the Animal Control Officer's return from another incident in order to report to her what happened. At that point, [name deleted] was home and his daughter had also reported the incident to the shelter. Shortly after the Animal Control Officer returned to the shelter, we briefly discussed the incident, and she immediately left to visit [name deleted].

I find it abhorrent that Herbst would politicize this horrible, unfortunate incident by sending this letter to me and simultaneously releasing it to the press since it does not help TAG or [name deleted], the victim in this incident. TAG does not deserve this amount of negative attention when our Animal Control Officer and other employees and volunteers do so much good work on a daily basis, every day, all year long to care for and find good homes for our dogs. Herbst's only intent could be to purposely malign my character, without having checked all of his facts. He never spoke with me about this matter.

TAG is a wonderful organization with dedicated volunteers who do good work. Even when all rules are followed, incidents can happen. It saddens me that Herbst is taking such an unfortunate accident and attempting to use our pain to his advantage politically.