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Family reeling after dogs attacked by loose pit bull
An Edmonton family is pushing for changes, after an off-leash pit bull attacked their two small dogs Saturday, killing one, and seriously injuring the other.
On Saturday morning, Sara Ward and her 12-year-old son took their family’s two Chihuahuas, Presley and Lola, out for a walk in west Edmonton.
Ward said they had walked to a man-made lake nearby, when they saw the other dog approach from behind the trees; Ward said she noticed it was not on a leash – and she moved quickly to protect the family dogs.
“I scooped up Presley and turned to my son to ask him to pick up our other dog Lola, and by the time I did that, the pit bull had run over and picked Lola in his mouth,” Ward said. “Immediately my son and I started screaming and it shook my dog violently around.”
Ward said she put down her dog, and punched the larger animal in an effort to get it to release her dog.
“When he finally let go of Lola he went and attacked Presley, and from there it’s kind of all a blur,” Ward said.
According to Ward, the owner of the pit bull, officials identified the breed as Staffordshire terrier, showed up on the scene after the incident had happened.
“His response was: ‘Well, he’s really a nice dog and he’s never done this before’,” Ward said. “Lola ended up just dying in my arms right there.
“Presley ended up breaking out of his collar and running home and my son chased him home.”
The family has been grappling with the shocking incident in the days since it happened, especially for Ward’s son.
“Needless to say, it’s been traumatizing for myself and my son, who cannot get this image out of his head,” Ward said.
As for the Staffordshire terrier, officials said it had been seized and could be held for up to 21 days.
“We’re going to be proceeding with, obviously, fines for the dog attack as well as dangerous dog application and what that does is allows us to put on additional conditions to the dog owner,” Keith Scott, coordinator of Animal Control, said.
Scott said the charges and fines have to go through court, and that process can take up to 8 months, and the dangerous dog application allows officials to put conditions on the dog right away.
“[It] allows us to go through a court order, which has a bit more teeth,” Scott said.
“If we feel this is a case where the dog shouldn’t go back and it’s a public safety risk, we could seek euthanasia for the dog.”
Scott said any punishments are on a case-by-case basis. Some other conditions placed on the animal could be requiring it be kenneled in a yard, or leashed and muzzled when not supervised, or that it couldn’t go to off-leash areas.
“The fine for a dog attack is $500, however, whenever there is a fatality usually we issue mandatory court, which allows us and the court to seek higher penalties, up to $10,000,” Scott said.
Annually, Scott said there are about 600 incidents of dog attack (chasing or nips) per year, and between 10 to 20 cases are fatalities.
Ward doesn’t think the punishment is enough.
“It was just complete negligence of this owner and he needs to be held responsible with more than just a $500 fine,” Ward said.
Scott is reminding dog owners to follow the rules when it comes to dogs.
“So I think it’s really important for people to understand there are rules out there, and that dogs are not to be off leash unless they’re in an off leash area, and even in an off leash area, their dogs need to be under control,” Scott said, saying pet owners should make sure they’re aware where off leash areas are, adding that dog owners caught with their pets off leash could be fined $100.
“There’s designated off leash areas where people should take their dogs, otherwise dogs should always be on a leash.”
Ward hopes their story acts as a reminder to dog owners to keep their dogs on a leash.
“It’s been devastating for us, and it’s just a senseless thing. It’s so preventable.”
With files from Nicole Weisberg