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Pitbull attack at Millennium raises issue of controversial bylaw

Kyra Hoggan
By Kyra Hoggan
May 27th, 2014

A Good Samaritan saved a 13-year-old girl and her dog from a Pitbull attack in Millennium Park May 19, according to RCMP Cpl. Debbie Postnikoff.

“We got a call at 2:33 p.m. that a Pitbull was attacking another dog in Millennium Park,” Postnikoff said. “The Pitbull was on a leash, but broke free and attacked a Black Lab.

“I guess he got hold of the other dog’s leg and wouldn’t let go.”

At this point, a bystander jumped in and detached the two dogs by kicking the Pitbull several times.

Two people sustained dog bites and the Lab was seriously injured, according to Postnikoff – but she said eyewitness accounts are inconsistent as to the origins of the bites.

“According to the young girl, the Pitbull attacked both her and her dog,” Postnikoff explained. “But the witness thought it was the Black Lab who panicked and was biting everything that came near, including its owner.”

Either way, the Pitbull owner, a young woman from out of town, sustained injuries as well, and was charged under the city’s Vicious Dogs bylaw and fined $150.

While both women were injured, neither female sustained injuries requiring overnight hospitalization. The Lab, however, was hurt more severely and had to be admitted for overnight care.

“It was a very scary ordeal, not just for the people involved, but for the witnesses and bystanders, as well,” Postnikoff said, adding she’s aware this could inflame an ongoing controversy within the city regarding its Vicious Dogs bylaw.

“If it was a German Sheperd, we’d still investigate as thoroughly and release the incident to the media,” she said. “This is not a breed-specific issue, from our perspective – it’s a dog bite, and we’re taking this very seriously.

“We did everything we possibly could do, according to the law.”

She said Animal Control was called in to investigate as well, part of which involved determining the dog had never before been involved in a biting incident that was reported to authorities.

City of Castlegar Animal Control Officer Rick Smith said he determined this was the case, and confirmed that the $150 fine was the harshest punitive measure he could levy within the scope of his authority – but said it had nothing to do with any bias of his own against, or for, any breed.

“The dog didn’t reside in the city, so it wasn’t subject to the city’s $1,000 licensing fee for every Pitbull or cross thereof,” he explained. “But any Pitbull within city limits and on public property, whether it resides in the city or not, is compelled by our bylaws to be muzzled.”

While the matter is settled from the standpoint of police and bylaw enforcement agencies, there remains the possibility of civil action before the incident is considered fully resolved.

For more coverage regarding Castlegar’s Vicious Dogs bylaw, click here.

Categories: CrimeGeneral

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