Monday, 17 December 2018
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Second chance for Stratford pit bulls that attacked dog

STRATFORD, P.E.I. – The owners of two pit bull-type dogs that attacked another dog in Stratford last week have been given the chance to keep their pets.

Sgt. Leanne Butler of the RCMP said the dogs have been deemed dangerous and enforcement officers from the P.E.I. Humane Society have served the dogs’ owners with an order under the Town of Stratford’s animal control bylaw.

The bylaw has a list of requirements the owners must meet by Nov. 7, and if those requirements are not met, Butler said the humane society will seize the dogs and they will be euthanized.

A 13-year-old lab-huskie mix, Louie, that belonged to Samantha Clow, was tied up at Clow’s Reeves Estates property when the dogs attacked her pet. Louie had to be euthanized as a result of his injuries.

Butler stressed that the case is under the authority of the P.E.I. Humane Society, not the RCMP.

“What our job would be is if the humane society officer went to that house, we’d go to keep the peace, assist – they are really in charge of the file and will make sure all this gets done.”

Marla Somersall, executive director of the Humane Society, said while she can’t comment on the case specifically, since it is still under investigation, she was able to give general insight about what happens when a dog attack occurs.

“Every situation is different,” she told The Guardian Tuesday. “Essentially, what we do is we follow the law and whether it’s the (provincial) dog act or if it’s a municipal bylaw, we act accordingly.”

During an investigation, an animal bylaw enforcement officer will try to uncover the circumstance of bites, attacks or aggressive behaviours.

Rules for dangerous dogs

The Town of Stratford’s animal control bylaw 26, section 9, states that when an animal control officer deems a dog is dangerous, the owner has to take the following steps:

  • The owner has to pay the licence fee for a dangerous dog
  • The dog has to be spayed or neutered
  • The dog must be muzzled at all times when off the owner’s property
  • The dog must be on a short leash held by a responsible person older than 18
  • When it is home, it must be either confined indoors or in a securely enclosed and locked pen
  • A sign must be displayed at each entrance to the property and building that there is a dangerous dog on the site
  • If the owner of a dangerous dog is unwilling or unable to comply with the above requirements, the dog shall be humanely euthanised by an animal shelter, an animal control agency or licensed veterinarian.

Somersall said the society will work with the owner to ensure the animal is under control and not a danger to the community. It will also work with the victims to provide them with any information they may require and ensure their animal receives the care it may need.

Officers will look into the past behaviour of an animal that has bitten to see if there is a history of aggression. They will also look at the animal’s current situation and if it’s being properly cared for by its owner.

Somersall added that one major factor in bites is whether or not a dog is getting enough exercise and stimulation, enrichment and training.

“If a dog is eight to 10 hours a day locked in a house and the owners come home and don’t walk them and don’t play with them and give them an outlet for their energy, that can – it doesn’t always – but that can become a stressor for an animal that may get acted out aggressively.”

Generally speaking, news about bites and attacks by pit bull-type dogs seem to make it to the media more often than other breeds, but Somersall said that’s unfair.

“They are certainly not the only ones that bite. All kinds of dogs bite, whether they’re big or small,” she said, adding the breed isn’t the issue. “Like all breeds, (they) require proper care, exercise, enrichment, training.”

And just because a dog bites doesn’t mean it will be put down, she said.

“To assume all dogs that bite will be euthanized is unfair. To assume that we’re not going to protect the community from a dog that has bitten or attacked is also unfair,” she said.

“Every situation is different.”

Somersall said the P.E.I. Humane Society works with law enforcement, municipalities, the province and the courts to determine the best outcome for each case.

Somersall encourages the public to see the bigger picture, especially for owners.

“If they have dogs that are anxious or that have nipped or have been aggressive to other animals or to members of their family or community or whatever, to please, please take it serious. Keep the dogs on leash in the community, keep them under control on their property and make sure that they are taking that responsibility to keep people and animals safe with their pets.”

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