New Canaan Woman Bitten By Donkey Fined For Loose Dogs

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Chipper is a 20-year-old miniature donkey who lives at a home on North Wilton Road in New Canaan.
Chipper is a 20-year-old miniature donkey who lives at a home on North Wilton Road in New Canaan. Photo Credit: Bethany Zaro

NEW CANAAN, Conn.  – The New Canaan woman who was bitten by a donkey on Wednesday while trying to stop her dogs from attacking the animal was fined $334 for letting her pets run loose.

Erin Newlin of Lantern Ridge Road received four infractions from the New Canaan Office of Animal Control on Thursday. Newlin received a pair of infractions for animal nuisance and two infractions for animal roaming.

Animal Control Officer Maryann Kleinschmitt said Newlin’s dogs, both Siberian husky-German shepherd mixes, strayed from Newlin’s home and went to Bethany Zaro’s property where they attacked Zaro’s miniature mule, Chipper. The dogs left the property after Newlin’s invisible fence failed.

Kleinschmitt said Newlin’s arm was bitten by the donkey. Newlin was taken to a hospital by ambulance for treatment of her injury. The donkey was badly bitten, Kleinschmitt said, and was being treated by a veterinarian for puncture wounds on his back legs and left eye.

Kleinschmitt said the donkey will have to remain in quarantine for 14 days because he bit a human.  The donkey was up to date on its rabies shots, she said.

Kleinschimitt added that Newlin’s dogs could be considered vicious if they get loose again and they could be euthanized.

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I grew up in the Sacramento Valley of California in farm country. We had a 12 gauge and a 22 for situations just like these: because we were within range of an urban area, dogs were often dumped out in the fields. These domesticated animals quickly formed packs that would viciously attack sheep and cattle, killing them. As a result, it was allowed to shoot the dogs on sight without repercussions.

This circumstance obviously occured in a different time but is no less telling: just two dogs will revert to their predatory instincts and intend to kill prey. I am sorry for the little "burrito" and sad for the dog owner who had to learn a hard lesson the hard way. I am also happy, to the person who wondered why a little donkey would be living in New Canaan, to know that livestock still exists in this area which was, after all, not the well-healed, perfected landscape of the wealthy that long ago. It was farm country.

May one and all learn from the hard lessons but also take solace in knowing that, with time, all will be well.

I also hope the dogs aren't treated too harshly or considered viscious (assuming there haven't been other incidents not in the story). Certainly they should not have escaped, but many docile dogs would chase and possibly attack a miniature donkey if they found one and hadn't been raised in a farm environment. For comparison, if a loose dog found its way into a rabbit or poultry farm, it's hard to blame the dog if those were attacked. Almost any dog would chase after a deer if it had the opportunity.

A tragedy all around... I suppose good fences (including invisible electric ones) really do make good good neighbors.

Hope we can get an update on Chipper the Donkey when he comes home...and hope those dogs are fenced in for good.

I hope the donkey is okay!!