On April 10, 2024

Killington Select Board acts to protect public after tourist attacked by dogs

By Polly Mikula

For the first time in at least a decade, the Killington Select Board held a vicious dog hearing and subsequently ruled that two 100+ pound mastiffs were a public threat and, therefore, need to be “disposed of humanely” — i.e. euthanized.

The attack occurred just after midnight on March 23 outside the Val Roc Motel in Killington.

Marianna Feger and Catherine Feger, visitors from Pearl River, New York, arrived at the Val Roc Motel at approximately 12:30 a.m. While unpacking the vehicle they saw large dogs approximately 10 feet away, who began to aggressively bark and then attacked, according to testimony. The dogs knocked Catherine Feger down on the ground in the motel parking lot. Both dogs continued to scratch and bite Catherine as she screamed: “Stop biting me.” Finally, Jason Sasbon came and grabbed the dogs to stop the attack. As soon as Catherine could get away, she ran to the car and got into the passenger seat, the protective order recounted. 

“Jason Sasbon had no control over the dogs and struggled to handle them even after the attack. Catherine Feger called 911 and received medical attention immediately following the attack,” the report stated.

The town of Killington received the vicious dog complaint on April 2 and held a hearing three days later, Friday, April 5.

The written complaint was submitted by Catherine Feger.

The dogs were subsequently identified as Chopper (3-year-old, 117 pound, red, male mastiff) and Shilah (3-year-old, 107 pound, red, female mastiff) owned by Jason Sasbon who resides at the Val Roc Motel on Route 4 East in Killington.

Neither Chopper nor Shilah are licensed in the town of Killington, but veterinarian records show they both have current rabies vaccination. 

At the hearing Catherine Feger and her sister Marianna Feger, who witnessed the attack, testified about the incident. 

“Standing on the passenger side of the vehicle by myself in the parking lot. I closed the door of the car and turned around and saw a large dog approximately 10 feet in front of me,” Catherine Feger recounted at the hearing, April 5. “The dog saw me almost immediately and ran towards me. I stood still and the dog barked progressively … Then one attacked me, jumping on me, biting me and scratching me. As I was trying to get away I saw the second dog. This dog also ran at me and attacked. Both dogs knocked me down on the ground in the parking lot. Dogs continue to scratch and bite me as I laid on the ground … I was screaming in pain.

“Finally a man came and grabbed the dogs, he was attempting to get them off and … for me to get away. I got into the passenger seat to escape the dogs. Then the man came up to the window of the car and told me I scare the dogs by yelling and told me that because I scared the dogs they attacked me. I asked if the dogs had been vaccinated against rabies. He said yes, but failed to provide any proof.”

That man was later identified as Jason Sasbon, the owner of the dogs.

“A second man came over to the car and asked us if we had insurance. That man indicated that he has been trying to convince the owner to get rid of the dogs because both dogs are dangerous.”

That man was later identified as Dan Farbman, the owner of the Val Roc Motel. 

“Immediately after the attack my sister Mariana called 911 … we decided it would be quicker to drive [to the hospital] on our own rather than to wait for an ambulance,” Catherine Feger recounted. “My sister Marianna drove me to Rutland Regional Medical Center emergency room, the doctors cleaned my wounds and put four sutures in my left knee. I received a rabies shot and a prescription of antibiotics at the hospital.”

“The dogs bit my back left shoulder, punctured my left arm and right elbow, my left knee massively and my right knee. Currently, I cannot ambulate correctly. I’m walking with a limp due to the gash in my left knee and extreme pain. I’m also having difficulty moving my left arm due to the bite,” she said.

Jason Sasbon, who was notified of the hearing by Killington’s Police Chief Whit Montgomery and Town Manager Michael Ramsey, had stated that he would be present at the hearing but was not.

During the hearing, the Select Board reviewed the Town of Killington Dog Control Ordinance, a written statement taken by Police Chief Whit Montgomery, provided by, and taken on behalf of Catherine Feger, a medical report from the Rutland Regional Medical Center, photos of injuries sustained to Catherine Feger from the attack and veterinarian reports for both Shilah and Chopper, as well as oral testimony from Catherine and Mariana Feger, and Chief Montgomery.

After the testimony Ramsey explained the procedure: “The board is going to go into deliberative session so everybody will be asked to leave the meeting. And then they will be charged to find whether the dog is a vicious dog or not. And if so, then they will come up with ways to protect the public from these dogs. The least being kept on leash when it’s off premises to the most extreme euthanasia.”

“This is the first time I’m dealing with something like this and I’ve been on the Select Board for 12 years,” said Selectman Jim Haff, who asked the Feger sisters what action they would recommend the Select Board take. “You were there, I was not,” he said.

“Honestly, due to the fact that I think the dog owners are really irresponsible… I don’t think it’s a safe place for anybody to stay, if they’re coming up for the weekend… He wasn’t doing a good job of keeping the dogs off me when they were attacking me…  I don’t like to think of the dogs getting euthanized, but I truly believe for the safety of anyone that goes to that motel or encounters these dogs… I can’t see them not harming somebody else, truthfully,” said Catherine, adding, “And if that was a child, like they would be dead, you know. They’re gonna kill a kid. Or they’re gonna kill somebody’s grandma. I don’t believe truthfully that those dogs aren’t gonna hurt somebody else if he doesn’t take care of them, which I don’t think he will.”

Mariana added: “I don’t think that it’s safe to have those dogs around. Even after the attack when Catherine made it back to the passenger seat and I went in the hotel to grab my car keys, when I opened the door, they were there waiting for me. So he didn’t even have them under control after they attacked her. He just said ‘oh, I guess they got out again,’ … those dogs are not trained, and they’re not under control… It’s not safe. It was almost like he was afraid of the dogs, honestly, like during that time, too.”

Decision and order

On Monday, April 8, Ramsey wrote up the decision, which read in part:

“No evidence has been presented indicating that Catherine did anything to induce or cause this attack; Catherine was simply unpacking her car to start a ski vacation in the Town of Killington. On this basis, the Select Board finds that Chopper and Shilah bit Catherine without provocation.

Therefore, in accordance with the authority granted in Section 11 of the Town of Killington Dog Control Ordinance and 20 V.S.A. §3546, the Killington Select Board issues the following order for the protection of the public:

“Shilah, the three-year-old, 107 lb., red, female mastiff and Chopper, the three-year-old, 117 lb., red, male mastiff owned by Jason Sasbon, shall both be disposed of humanely. Jason Sasborn shall provide the Select Board with written documentation from a licensed veterinarian that Shilah and Chopper have been disposed of in a humane way by April 16, 2024.”

The Decision and Order was approved by the Killington Select Board on April 5, 2024, and was sent to Sasbon, Tuesday, April 9.

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