Town: Newbury ACO resignation not linked to criminal investigation | Local News

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NEWBURY — Carol Larocque, a city animal control officer who was investigated in the shooting death of a stray dog, tendered her resignation in August before the investigation began, according to the City Manager Tracy Blais.

Blais added that Larocque’s resignation was unrelated to the investigation.

Blais announced Larocque’s intention to step down, effective October 16, at a September 27 select council meeting, about five weeks after Newbury Police Deputy Chief Patty Fisher received the letter. of Larocque’s resignation on August 15.

“After 30 years as an animal control officer for the town of Newbury, the decision to step down was not an easy one,” she wrote in her letter. “I enjoy working with members of our community and with Newbury Police Service officers as we strive to meet the needs of animals and pet owners. I am especially grateful for your support and your help with some of the more challenging aspects of this position. However, as our city changes, so do the requirements of the position needed, and I believe the city and its people will be best served by someone with fewer personal responsibilities .

Larocque went on to write that she would be willing to help the town’s new animal control officer on a case-by-case basis and help with the transition.

Larocque, a native of Nashua, New Hampshire, has been an animal control officer for more than 40 years. She has worked in Wenham, Hamilton, Rowley and Newburyport, where she served for 14 years until the mid 2000s. She also assists Topsfield’s animal control needs.

The investigation into Larocque’s role in what was described as the euthanasia of a stray dog ​​at the now-closed Hydrant Regency kennel in Rowley began after owner April Bernardt informed police of the alleged incident.

Bernardt, who faces 40 animal cruelty charges, accused Larocque and Rowley Animal Control Officer Reed Wilson of shooting a dog at the kennel. Larocque was Rowley’s assistant animal control officer at the time.

Bernardt was arraigned on the charges in Newburyport District Court on September 14 and posted $3,000 cash bond. Since his arraignment, Bernhardt has posted bail. She returned to court on Friday for a brief preliminary hearing that mainly consisted of being given another court date, December 20, as the case proceeds to a possible trial.

Court records show Rowley Police Sgt. Matthew Ziev learned on Sept. 7 that a stray dog ​​may have been euthanized with a gun at the Route 1 kennel. He asked Bernhardt if she knew anything about the claim and she said she did.

Bernhardt described the husky as a stray without a microchip, tag or collar who was found in Willowdale State Forest by a good Samaritan and brought to his kennel in late September 2021. The dog then bit her twice times, once so badly she had a rabies shot as a precaution. The dog remained in a crate following the incidents.

Around this time, and unbeknownst to Bernhardt, the two officers arrived at the kennel armed with what appeared to be rifles. Their arrival was filmed and Ziev was able to watch it.

“A few minutes later, April Bernhardt heard a gunshot, a dog barking and then a second shot. Bernhardt indicated that it made her feel horrible and that it was inhumane,” Ziev wrote in his report.

When asked why she didn’t call the police after the shooting, Bernhardt said it was because “it’s the animal police.”

Dave Rogers is the editor of the Daily News in Newburyport. Email him at: [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @drogers41008.

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