Eight-year-old Emma Warren was looking for her siblings outside her Northumberland County home when a pit bull rushed up to her and grabbed her by the arm.

The Carrolls Crossing girl managed to get away, but the attack left her with injuries to her arm and backside that required stitches.

Now, her parents say they're afraid it could happen again and are calling for stricter animal control laws for rural areas. 

Jamie Warren, Emma's father, said if their neighbour hadn't scared the dog away, the attack could have been much worse.

"I don't think she would have been here," he said. "That dog would've ripped her limb from limb.

"There's no doubt in my mind, at all, to this day. It bothers me, it haunts me weeks later."

Emma Warren describes the moment her neighbour's pit bull tackled and bit her1:22

Lack of help 

Emma's mother, Hollie Warren, said she and her husband have not been able to get much help from authorities, including officials with the Rural Community of Upper Miramichi, which has been frustrating.

She said she called the rural community's animal control officer, Mack Carson, who asked the owner to quarantine the dog in his house for 10 days. He told the Warrens he could do little else, although municipal bylaws do allow him to seize and impound a dog that bites someone.

'That dog... it would have ripped her limb from limb'1:29

Carson said he asked the owner to keep the pit bull in his house. Only a judge can make him destroy the animal, Carson said.

He also said he didn't think the dog was being intentionally aggressive or it would have "done more damage."

Carson did not meet the dog.

'I don't want this to ever happen again' 

Mark Munn, the dog's owner, said that for the most part, his dogs are kept in the house.

On the day of the attack, Munn wasn't at home, and the dog, Mercedes, slipped out when a friend came over.

The dogs are let out one at a time. When the dog minder was taking the leash of one to put on the other, Mercedes slipped out by him.

Mercedes is a rescue dog that Munn inherited from his son.

Mercedes the pitbull

The owner of pit bull Mercedes says he's torn over what to do with her after she attacked an eight-year-old girl last month. (Submitted)

Munn said he's following the directions of the animal control officer and feels awful about the whole incident.

"I wish I could turn back time, change everything because it's awful," he said. "Because I don't want this to ever happen again."

'I hope they would never think I'm trying to elevate my dog to the same level as their child'0:59

Munn said some friends and family want him to destroy Mercedes, but professionals he's talked to say the attack was not an act of aggression.

"So I'm kind of torn between what to do, because my dogs have become my family," he said. "I love my dog."

Provincial regulations governing animal control fall under the Municipalities Act and only apply to unincorporated areas and to rural communities that haven't adopted a dog bylaw. 

Department of Environment and Local Government spokesperson Marc Andre Chaisson said the government doesn't have plans to change the regulations. 

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the animal control officer as Matt Carson. His name is Mack Carson.
    Nov 08, 2017 6:29 PM AT
With files from Catherine Harrop and Jordan Gill