Regina woman upset after dog attacked, argues lack of 'urgency' from animal protection services
'There's a lot of myths out there' about process for seizing animals, says Regina Humane Society
WARNING: Story contains a photo of injuries to a dog.
On Sept. 8, Patricia MacInnis left her Regina home to take her five-and-a-half-year-old German shepherd mix for a walk.
MacInnis says she was only two blocks from home when a large dog ran through a hole in a front yard fence on Broder Street, pounced on her dog and began biting repeatedly.
"I thought she was dead. I heard noises coming out of my dog that I have never heard from any dog in my life and I've been around them my entire life," she recalled.
The dog suffered six deep bites on her body and MacInnis walked away with an injury to her hamstring after being pulled on the leash during the attack.
Three weeks later, MacInnis said her dog is mostly back to normal.
However, she said to her knowledge, animal control hasn't seized the dog — something she thinks should have happened, especially in light of a deadly attack earlier in the month that left a six-year-old boy dead in Riceton, Sask.
"Given the circumstances of that — two dogs mauling a child to death … there [should] have been a much greater sense of urgency from animal control," she said.
MacInnis said she called Regina police and was referred to animal protection services the day after the attack.
She says she's not happy with the response she got from the responding officers.
For example, MacInnis said whoever took down her information about the incident omitted the fact that her dog had been bitten.
She also said there was a lack of communication from the officer assigned to her file about updates on the case, next steps or how the process itself works.
She's concerned about the dog she says attacked her pet still being in the community.
"If a little kid is walking by the house and that dog is around and decides that that's its next victim, the little kid's not going to have a chance to make it," she said.
"To me, it's a matter of time before that dog hurts a human, never mind other dogs," she said.
Lots of 'myths' about what animal protection services can do
Bill Thorn, a spokesperson for the Regina Humane Society, which operates animal protection services in the city, said he could not speak to the specifics of the case.
He said he understands the frustration a pet owner feels when their four-legged companion is attacked or bitten, but officers cannot just take an animal away after an incident is reported.
"There's a lot of myths out there," he said.
"There's people that believe if a dog bites another animal that it's automatically seized, or if it bites a person that it's automatically seized or perhaps that the animal's put down, and that's not the case."
He said when an attack is reported, an officer will be assigned to investigate — a process that could vary in length depending on factors such as whether the registered owner of the offending dog is co-operative.
If an investigation reveals a dog may be a threat to the community, the officer will submit a brief to begin court proceedings, Thorn said.
Only judge can deem a dog dangerous
He said only a judge can rule on whether a dog is dangerous. If that happens, the judge would take appropriate action, such as ordering the animal to be muzzled in public or, in more extreme cases, ordering euthanasia.
"Even people that perhaps are a little frustrated with how long things might be taking with the court system or whatever, if it was reversed, I would think they would appreciate and respect the fact that that needs to happen to protect their rights, too," Thorn said.
"It's not perfect. There's every different kind of situation you can imagine, every incident has its own story, its own set of unique circumstances that need to be investigated."
If a dog bites a person, it can be quarantined under orders by the Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region to monitor for signs of rabies.
8 officers and 7,000 calls for service
Thorn said there are currently eight full-time animal protection officers in the city. Last year, they attended to around 7,000 calls for services, including everything from dog bites to stray cats.
As for MacInnis, she said an officer is expected to have her sign papers to begin court proceedings on Saturday.