Dog Bite Creates Controversy with Trumbull Councilwoman, FS Herbst

First Selectman Tim Herbst says Town Councilwoman Martha Jankovic Mark failed to control a shelter dog she was walking and failed to help a man the dog bit. Mark says she followed protocol. No charges have been filed in the incident.

An Oct. 13 dog bite incident has led First Selectman Tim Herbst to admonish Town Councilwoman Martha Jankovic Mark, who was walking the dog at the time.

But Mark said the police report had limited information and denied Herbst's allegations. No charges have been filed. The dog, whose rabies vaccination expired in May, has been quarantined for 14 days since the bite, police said.

"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 [the alleged victim's] statements and the brief police report," Mark said.


Interested in Trumbull's news, events, community bulletins, blogs and businesses? Sign up for the free Trumbull Patch daily newsletter, "like" us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


Police said Mark, a volunteer for the Trumbull Animal Group, was walking a Pit Bull mix named Ruby when the dog bit a 79-year-old man on the leg while his back was turned. He had given the dog a "wide berth" before the bite, police said.

The bite broke the skin, and the man, a Trumbull resident, was later treated for his injury, police said.

Herbst said Mark failed to place herself between the man and the dog, against regulations, and failed to offer assistance or ask the man if he needed it.

Mark denied Herbst's accusations in a letter (attached).

"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 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," Mark said. 

"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," she added.

Meanwhile, Animal Control Officer Lynn Dellabianca said steps are being taken to prevent future incidents.

"I and TAG are taking measures to make sure volunteers are retrained on the proper procedures while they are walking the shelter dogs," she said.

Gerry October 18, 2012 at 10:47 AM
This letter serves no purpose other than to be mean, nasty and try to publicly portray someone's character as negative. Surely, there are other town matters which require as much if not more attention. Why don't you just blame her for needing to cancel Michael Bolton while you are at it? Is he expecting her to run against him in the next election so now its time to attack her? Maybe she wrote a letter demanding accountability for the Michael Bolton financial loss? So it's retaliatory! Now that would be consistent!
Kathleen McGannon October 18, 2012 at 11:12 AM
Mr. Herbst has been consistently rude and obnoxious since Martha switched parties and became a Democrat. Once again, another prominent Republican had had enough of Tim's antics and tantrums. This is simply another tantrum. I would love to see all the letters he must write to chastise people when they run a stop sign, or are caught speeding, or their dog gets out of the yard, etc. Oh, they don't exist because they haven 't switched parties? This is not the job of a first selectman! This is to try to discredit a good, smart, strong volunteer for the town. Just remember the infamous "challenge" to Ms. Mark at the Town Council meeting--"If you want to choose the performer, run for First Selectman." Clearly, he is afraid she just might! Hang in there, Martha. Everyone can read right through this sad attempt to make you look bad. Bullies often run down good people in an effort to make themselves look better because they have no other means of looking good. You did everything you could under the circumstances. Accidents happen. This was one.
Jim Sullivan October 18, 2012 at 11:25 AM
I hope the gentleman is alright and that dog is promptly put down. I recommend the TAG consider a policy of muzzling any bulls they walk and thank them for their good works.
Trumbull Gal October 18, 2012 at 11:35 AM
Once again, Mr. Herbst's actions surprise no one. Whereas a dog's behavior is unpredictable, that of our First Selectman is quite the opposite. I, for one, would like to thank Martha and her family for their tireless dedication to our community. Tommorrows news: A letter from Jack Testani supporting Tim's letter to Martha!
Tom Kelly October 18, 2012 at 12:28 PM
Anyone who has watched Tim Herbst operate politically can see what this is very clearly. It's an attempt to change the focus of the news cycle. Right now, Herbst is in the spotlight for the failure of the Michael Bolton concert and his loss of $77,000 in taxpayer funds. Beyond that, the North Nichols sewer project still is uncompleted after 3 years on Tim Herbst's watch, and the complaints continue to increase about the problems with the high school renovation which has gone awry under Republican leadership. Herbst is desperate to change the focus on to anyone other than himself, but by publicly criticizing a community volunteer, Herbst had sunk to a new low. Martha Jankovic-Mark should be applauded, not criticized. She has devoted hundreds of hours of her time to the Trumbull Animal Group, which is a wonderful community organization. She is a tireless community volunteer, and even her role on the Town Council is as an elected volunteer. If Mr. Herbst had spent more of his time volunteering instead of politicking, he would know that sometimes unfortunate incidents occur. People who volunteer with seniors could inadvertantly spill some soup or coffee. People who voluteer with youth sports could be coaching when one of the kids gets hurt. It's literally impossible to prevent all eventualities, and no one feels worse than the volunteer. By publicly criticizing a volunteer who walks dogs in need of adoption, Herbst could very well hurt volunteer organizations (more)
Tom Kelly October 18, 2012 at 12:32 PM
in Trumbull. This could well have a negative affect on the ability of those dogs to find a permanent home. This is beyond the pale and Mr. Herbst should not be making politics out of this. It's deplorable. Mr. Herbst is not perfect, either, and no volunteer in this town should have to worry that if something unfortunate occurs, our First Selectman will write a letter on town stationery and send a copy to the media outlets. Trumbull has never been governed this way before. We are a small town, and we need a leader who is more concerned about the town and it's people than winning the next election by whatever means he can find, including making politics out of an issue like this.
Patty Sheehan October 18, 2012 at 12:36 PM
First and foremaost, I hope the gentleman who was bitten is OK. So, the FS heard about a dog bite story, found out Martha Marks was involved, didn't speak to her about what happened, wrote a letter making assumptions about what happened and published the letter? Could his have anything to do with Martha's recent defection from the Republican party? Gee I wonder..... We were looking fro transparency and we got it. This attempt by the FS to take an unfortunate and completely accidental incident and politicize it is about as transparent as glass. I'm hoping that the FS finds better things to do with his time today. About the only good thing was that he contacted the injured gentleman. I wonder if Mr. Hriczu is happy about being used as a political football? And just so I don't get another missive from the First Selectman attempting to "educate" me with regard to cyber-libel, I will add the required "Just my opinion".... I truly hope Trumbull voters are paying attention......
Cindy Katske October 18, 2012 at 12:39 PM
I can think of no legitimate reason for a First Selectman to send a letter to the press chastising a town volunteer for what was an unfortunate accident. This was clearly an act of intimidation and an attempt to make Martha--Mr. Herbst's perceived political rival--look bad. I find it abhorrent that the First Selectman would bring negative press to the animal shelter and the dog for his own satisfaction. I would also like to thank Martha and her family and all the other TAG volunteers for their service to such a worthy organization!
HL October 18, 2012 at 12:43 PM
This is really disappointing. For starters, I am not a fan of pit bulls as a breed or seeing them in public, ever. Too many bad injuries to people and children. Having said that, I do sympathize for the people who try to care for them (properly). But this letter from Mr. Herbst is extremely troublesome. This is clearly nothing more than a political attack on a member of another party, an opportunistic sleazy move disguised as concern. Was this really the best use of his time? Harping on a situation where those involved were already aware of the mistake? Writing a two page letter scolding another elected official for partisan impact? Could this not have been handled in a superior manner with a private discussion? Would this same letter have been sent to a GoP council member? Of course the answer to the last question is "no" ... which is why this letter is so disappointing. I'm all for Tim asking Martha privately about how she could have let that happen, but formalizing it in this manner is clearly for show. While it may please the Republican base to see any Democrat scolded (regardless of whether it's justified or not), I think this move is going to backfire with independents like myself.
HL October 18, 2012 at 12:48 PM
I don't think this is about Tim winning the next election, Tom. I think it's worse than that. I think this is more of an attempt to discredit and remove another member of the opposition, at any cost, to try and put another party yes-man (or woman) in that position. Partisan politics at it's worst.
Michele Kopas October 18, 2012 at 01:00 PM
Pit bulls have a bad rap and your comment does not help them. There are many pit bulls that have good temperaments. I have walked Ruby several times and she is a good dog. I not sure why this happened, but I do know she has been at the shelter way too long and needs a good home.
Joan October 18, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Wasn't Mrs. Mark the only person on the Town Council who stood up to Herbst and asked to be informed about the proposed performer before the ill-fated vote to fund the "summer concert" this year? So, it isn't even remotely possible that this is some bizarre sort of retribution for Herbst's embarrassment over losing $77,000 of the town's money in the Michael Bolton debacle, is it? Nah--who would be that childish and vindictive?? Oh, wait...I forgot who we were talking about. Makes perfect sense now. At least we finally have some transparency in government!
Steven Castro October 18, 2012 at 02:10 PM
I know Lynn Dellabianca to be a confident and capable employee. Should this incident stopped at her responsibility once the elderly gentleman did not press any charges? I hope that not every police incident report goes through the First Selectman's office. Sounds like selective micro-managing.
Ignatius Reilly October 18, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Pitbulls have a bad reputation because the media in general demonizes the breed. I have had pitbulls for nearly 40 years and not once has one of my dogs lashed out. The first step for you HL is to shed your prejudice. Pitbulls were named "The Nanny Breed" for years before the slander started to fly. Please consider getting to know a few and if you still feel the same way there is little anyone can do.
louis October 18, 2012 at 04:03 PM
Hey, when are we going to start with talking about the concert and the nefarious corruption to undermine the peoples entertainment? How did you folks make the issue go away so easily because next time, the excuse is going to be, we cannot make a contract with a performer because, well if we cancel, we'll have to pay $70,000 for them to not sue us
HL October 18, 2012 at 05:26 PM
My comment about Pit bulls is simply how I feel. I have nothing against the dogs, it's not their fault. I own two dogs myself (sporting group) and I think dogs make tremendous pets. Having said that, while many pit bulls may be sweet animals, they are capable of doing a tremendous amount of damage, and that alone is why I do not want one or want one near my children. There is a reason people don't have rocket launchers in their house. Sure, a rocket launcher in a well trained mature persons home may be fine, but in the hands of someone who is irresponsible, vindictive, dangerous or dumb, it can do a serious amount of damage. Either way, what was not my primary point, and I will not be badgered by pro-pit-bull breeders and owners on a topic I cannot be convinced otherwise on. I do have respect for Martha (and others) for trying to help and care for these dogs given that they are legal, and alive, and none of this is their fault. My main concern here was the gross use of partisan politics over a non-story by our first selectman.
Jeff Arlio October 18, 2012 at 05:35 PM
HL's comment on pit bulls were not needed in regards to this article. The dog "Ruby" is a mixed breed with only a little pit in her. The majority of pits make wonderful pets and do not need any further negativity. I have walked Ruby many times without any problems. I don't know why this happened. For Herbst to blow this story up over politics is sad. He has just made it harder for us volunteers to walk dogs. He should think first before opening his mouth.
Jim Flynn October 18, 2012 at 06:19 PM
Please release the letter so we can all read it.
Joanne October 18, 2012 at 08:43 PM
I think it is disgusting how low our First Selectman will go to discredit a political opponent. I have known Martha for 20 years and proud to call her my friend. She has impeccable character and is motivated solely by a desire to do good. any breed of rescue animal is unpredictable and nada things unfortunately sometimes happen.
Aaron Leo (Editor) October 18, 2012 at 08:46 PM
It's attached to the story, see under the photo, Jim.
Jim Flynn October 18, 2012 at 09:17 PM
Thank you for the reference. After reading it, I am stunned by the childishness and petulance of Mr. Herbst. He should be ashamed of himself. A leader should lead, not act like a petulant five year old.
Joe Smith October 19, 2012 at 07:56 AM
Look out Trumbull, there's a new sheriff in town! Oh No He Didn't! He wrote A LETTER! You go and get those bad guys. Make sure we're all protected from those who walk dogs in the dark of night. No one, not even someone as powerful as a TC member can hide from your thirst for justice. Looks like there's more than one attack dog in this story! And look at that impressive signature--looks, dare I say, gubernatorial... BTW. How's the multimillion dollar high school renovation project coming along? Or are your big bad letters only for people who don't contribute to your little pet golf tournaments? Remember this oldie but goodie from the patch: "Gold Sponsors for the August 24, 2012 event included ... O&G Industries and AFB Construction Management." http://trumbull.patch.com/articles/trumbull-first-selectman-s-golf-classic-tremendous-success Maybe Martha should work on her backswing.
Karen Pastor October 19, 2012 at 10:25 AM
Go get em Timmy! That's how you lead by example. How's that sewer project coming?
Razkel October 19, 2012 at 12:58 PM
I feel very badly about what happened. I am not going to get into the politics of all this. However, I have two comments I would like to make. Possibly Ruby was abused by a male and that is why she attacked the gentleman. Also, why were the dog's shots not up to date? Should it not be a policy for all shelter animals shots to be up to date? Just saying. I really hope the dog does not get put down.
jeff wright October 19, 2012 at 06:43 PM
Joe Smith October 26, 2012 at 10:48 AM
Oh oh. It looks like the weather might be bad this week. Better cancel halloween now and save taxpayers all that money that would be wasted on candy. Better write a letter to god while you're at it & chastise him for sending bad weather two years in a row. Why does god hate halloween?
vampares November 05, 2012 at 01:22 AM
Golf tournaments are sociable events. Allowing the dog to bite anyone at all make the community truly dangerous.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something