Dog attack prompts discussion of rules and regulations
A vicious dog attack in Sundre on Aug. 18, as well as several other recent dog-attack incidents in the district, has spurred a lot of discussion on dog ownerships, dog breeds and the penalties for dog-related injuries and deaths.
In Mountain View County, pitbull Terriers, American pit bull Terriers and pitbulls are considered restricted dogs, meaning the fines and expectations involving these dogs are higher than other breeds.
In the county, an injury or attack by a vicious or restricted dog to a person carries a fine of between $600 and $1,000. A dog attack or injury to an animal, by a vicious dog can have a fine of up to $400.
“We don’t want to ban anyone from owning certain breeds,” Rob Ridley, a community peace officer in Mountain View County, told the Gazette. “But the owners of restricted breeds are held to higher standards of ownership and responsibility.”
Red Deer County, as well as towns and villages across the region all have similar danger dog bylaws on the books.
There have been a number of dog attack incidents in Mountain View County in the recent past: • On Aug. 18 a 26-year-old Calgary woman received serious injuries when she was attacked by two pitbulls in a Sundre trailer. A woman has been charged in that case.
• Two people were severely injured after being attacked by Akita dogs in a Didsbury-area home in July 2011. The dogs’ owner was later convicted and fined.
• An Olds woman was attacked and severely bitten by a dog in an Olds alley last year. That case remains before the courts.
Educational programs such as Paws for Safety Dog Bite Prevention are committed to reducing the number of dog bite incidents by teaching the students safe dog-encounter behaviour. The program is offered in Chinook’s Edge School Division and elsewhere.
Under the program students are taught how to approach and interact with stray dogs and dogs they are familiar with to prevent dog bites but they are also taught what to do if they encounter an aggressive dog.
The City of Calgary has become something of a provincial model for dog bite prevention and control and has been looked upon for inspiration when it comes to dealing and handling dog breed that have been for dealing with dangerous dogs.
“We don’t have a pet problem, we have a people problem,” Bill Bruce, retired Director of Animal Services Calgary told the Gazette. “We don’t punish breeds, we punish behavior. The bottom line is, we believe all dogs are capable of biting. It’s not controlling pets, it’s about holding people responsible for their pets.”
Bruce has been an advocate for responsible pet ownership and took the approach that through training, physical care and socialization, any animal has the chance to thrive and be a great pet.