Pit bull attack results in death of small dog

·4 min read

Editor’s note: This story contains graphic content that may be disturbing for some readers.

Medicine Hat resident Peggy Dawson is urging dog owners to keep their pets leashed in required areas, following a pit bull attack which resulted in the death of her beloved dog Monty.

The attack took place at approximately 8:30 a.m. July 13, in the neighbourhood of northeast Crescent Heights. Dawson says she and Monty – her 10-year-old papillon – had just left their apartment building for their usual morning walk when she spotted two other dogs, one of which was a pit bull, playing off-leash near the building next door.

“I looked at them and I did hesitate, but I thought ‘they’re occupied and they’re having fun down there; we’ll just go in the other direction,'” Dawson told the News. “We hadn’t walked very far – I don’t know if we walked 20 feet – and I heard somebody yell. I looked back and the pit bull was practically on us already and he attacked Monty.”

Dawson says the next few moments were a blur as she tried to get Monty away from the pit bull, while the dog’s owner, who had been supervising it, ran toward them.

“It was the owner who got (the dog) off Monty, but she had a hard time to get her dog off and he still wanted to lunge,” Dawson said.

By the time the two dogs were separated and the pit bull put on-leash, several nearby individuals had arrived to help Dawson and Monty – who was severely injured.

“I was working in that area (when) I noticed a big dog was attacking a little dog with a lady hanging on to it,” Steve Brosnikoff said. “I got out of my truck and ran to the scene. At that point, the lady had already got her pit bull off the small dog, Monty, and he was in pretty rough shape.

“I asked Peggy if I could pick him up, just to help comfort him and see how I could help. At that point, his eyeball was hanging out and he was in breathing difficulty. Peggy was very distraught and upset. And I said, ‘Let’s go away from the scene and get you away from what was going on with the lady with the pit bull.'”

Brosnikoff and a building resident remained with Dawson and Monty and assisted in calling nearby veterinary clinics, as well as Medicine Hat’s municipal bylaw enforcement office. The building resident then drove Dawson and Monty to a veterinary clinic for emergency treatment, but due to the severity of his injuries, Monty had to be put down.

Shortly after the attack, bylaw officers apprehended the pit bull and transported it to Medicine Hat’s APARC; where it will remain while completing a mandatory 10-day rabies hold.

If the dog tests negative for rabies at the end of the 10 days, its owner will be allowed to collect and return home with it, so long as they pay all pound fees.

While bylaw declared the pit bull a ‘vicious dog,’ as outlined in city bylaw No. 3935, it will not be euthanized says Barri-Ann Hayward, bylaw acting superintendent.

“We don’t have the authority just to scoop peoples’ animals and put them down,” Hayward said. “It’s the Dangerous Dog Act – provincial legislation – (which governs animal euthanasia following an attack). To go that route, we’d have to get a judge to decide to put it down. But (the courts require) consecutive problems with a dog to say it needs to be put down. We have no history (of prior problems) we are aware of with this dog.”

So long as the pit bull remains classified as a ‘vicious dog,’ its owner must adhere to several preventative measures including mandatory muzzling in public and utilization of a leash no longer than one meter in length. The animal’s owner is able to appeal the vicious dog declaration, which would be heard by a city council-appointed appeal committee.

Whether the dog’s classification as ‘vicious’ remains or is lifted, Dawson hopes its owner will adhere to leashing in all required areas.

“It’s not off-leash here,” said Dawson. “But we were close to an off-leash area. They could have been playing there instead of where they were. It was the bad decision of the pit bull owner to take her dog off-leash. And I lost my dog because of it.

“What I would like to see is for people to obey the bylaws and keep their dogs on leash.”

As Dawson continues to work through the grief of losing her companion, she thanks those who provided assistance, including Brosnikoff and the building resident, veterinary staff and bylaw officers.

KENDALL KING, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News

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