Out for a walk on a nice day, Epsom couple bitten by unleashed dogs 

  • Arthur and Anne Bouchard walk their dog, Molly, on River Road in Epsom on Monday, where they said they were attacked by eight dogs earlier in March. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Arthur Bouchard shows one of the dog bites he sustained after a dog attack on his road earlier this month. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Anne Bouchard points to the way the pack of dogs came from in front of their Epsom driveway with her husband Arthur and their dog Molly on Monday, March 29, 2021 GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Arthur and Anne Bouchard walk their dog Molly on River Road in Epsom on Monday, March 29, 2021 where they were attacked by eight dogs earlier this month. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Eight dogs roam off leash with their owner. Courtesy photo

  • Arthur Bouchard and their dog Molly. COURTESY—

Monitor columnist
Published: 4/1/2021 2:27:24 PM

They heard the sound emerging from behind, growing louder and more threatening with each step the couple took.

Arthur Bouchard described it as galloping mixed with barking. Bouchard turned and saw the dogs, eight of them, charging down River Road in Epsom on a splendid Sunday afternoon, locked and loaded on him, his wife, Anne Bouchard, and their Golden Retriever, Molly.

From there, the Bouchard’s account of what had happened last month moved into chaotic descriptions of biting, scratching, kicking, punching, screaming and terror. Arthur and Anne fought to protect themselves and Molly during a street fight that certainly was unique in nature.

“I am a little shook-up,” Anne said recently by phone. “I’m not walking this week, I can tell you that. I’m not feeling secure.”

The puncture wounds will heal, the butterfly stitches fade. Fear, though, sticks around longer, refusing to cooperate, a residual effect that the neighbors feel as well.

“The way I feel,” Arthur said, “is that I always pay my taxes and now I feel like I have to walk my dog with a 9-millimeter.”

The police declined to release the name of the man who owns the pack of canines. Epsom Police Chief Wayne Preve said summonses will be issued once the man’s veterinarian provides health certificates for the dogs. 

Preve said in an email that the dogs were boxers and boxer mixes. To Arthur and Anne, however, they seemed more like an undisciplined swarm of teeth and tails.

The two of them, plus Dan Prescott, a neighbor and witness, all told the same story. The dogs attacked from behind. Blood was shed. The unidentified man disappeared quickly, chased by Prescott in his truck.

All three agreed that the suspect said nothing the entire time, strangely oblivious to the terrified couple and their blood-stained clothing. They said the man showed little emotion after the attack, and he certainly didn’t apologize.

Preventive measures were easy in this case, the couple said. They wondered why anyone would put others at risk by walking eight dogs, strong and athletic, with no leash and, the Bouchards later learned, no boundaries.

Prescott said the Bouchards were not exaggerating the encounter.

“Not at all,” he said.

Anne and Arthur, an older couple, got married and then moved to Epsom 16 years ago. The Bouchards and Prescotts are neighbors and friends.

Anne taught school; Arthur managed the armories in Concord and Manchester. They’ve since retired.

They found Molly, part of a litter that needed homes, three years ago. Dan’s wife, Julie, often joins Anne walking their dogs together.

Arthur and Anne and Molly walk a lot, too. In fact, everyone in the area seemed to be walking their dogs on March 14, a Sunday. It was that kind of day, relatively warm, finally.

Initially, Anne and Molly were going, but Arthur decided that he’d go along.

They moved down the driveway and looked both ways. To the right, was a road toward Bear Brook State Park.

“We wanted to go left, but I saw a bunch of dogs there,” Arthur said. “I said let’s take a right.”

So they did.

It wasn’t long, though, before that galloping sound, mixed with barking, began. It was right around noon.

Arthur turned and saw what he later said reminded him of hounds leading the British elite, chasing a fox. He caught his wife’s eye.

“Anne, hold on, because those suckers are coming after us,” he said he told her.

They pounced. Molly’s leash tangled with Arthur’s legs, forcing him to the ground. “At that moment,” he said, “I was face to face with those suckers.”

He rose and fought back.

“I didn’t know what the hell I was doing, but I never used all those bones and found muscles I never knew I had,” he said.

Nearby, Prescott’s dog started howling. Prescott looked outside and noticed the battle was in full swing. And the Bouchards were losing.

Prescott said he saw Arthur shielding Molly from some of the dogs with his left hand, while throwing punches at other dogs with his right.

Anne stood above the mess, kicking the dogs, screaming her head off.

Prescott grabbed a pair of oak sticks to help his friends, only to realize when he got there that, “It was like bringing a pea shooter into a gunfight. It was a wolf pack.”

Something jumped out at Prescott: A man of dignity, a great neighbor, had earned some peace and quiet at this point in his life.

Now, this?

“It was pitiful to see a couple at 78 years old trying to defend themselves like that,” Prescott said.

Prescott’s recollection was far more detailed than those of Arthur and Anne. He wasn’t the target. He had more time to absorb what was happening.

And, in fact, he reacted, rushing into his truck and following the man, yelling at him to take responsibility for what had happened and screaming about accountability.

The guy got away. The Epsom cop who answered the call soon after the brawl saw the blood on the couple, the fear in their eyes.

He contacted the man and convinced him to come to the police department.

Meanwhile, Chief Preve said all eight dogs, where were licensed with the town, tested negative for rabies. More testing was needed before the man and a woman – who arrived later, but was not present when the attack took place – would receive summonses to appear in court.

“The dog owners are liable,” Preve said, “and it’s unusual that this many dogs are out in a pack. I look for control of the dogs, and this person did not have control of his dogs.”

The damage could have been a lot worse. Battle scars included puncture wounds and scratches on Arthur’s chin, right arm and hand. He was bleeding badly, the couple said.  Anne suffered a puncture wound on her hand.

Molly’s ear got chewed.

They went for emergency care – Arthur was bandaged and needed a butterfly stitch.  Antibiotics were prescribed for Arthur and Anne. Molly was given Doggie Downers.

The street, River Road, looks different and feels different these days. Even three weeks after the attack. Some of the innocence is gone. People are jittery.

“My wife walks our dog down that street each day,” Prescott said.

The Bouchards and everyone else in that area hope the punishment handed out to the dogs’ owner deters him and others from behaving recklessly.

They never want to hear strange sounds closing in on them from behind – the galloping, mixed with barking. It marked their first walk of the season.

“I don’t know if this will  have consequences or not, or they’ll just let him do this,” Anne said. “I am a little gun shy. I wonder why he thought that would be okay.”

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