New Brunswick

Pit bull accused of biting 5-year-old girl won't be put down

A provincial court judge in Saint John has ruled that a pit bull accused of biting five-year-old girl will be allowed to live, but the dog's owner must abide by several conditions.

Judge rules evidence shows girl was scratched by Torque, spares dog's life

A provincial court judge in Saint John has ruled that a pit bull accused of biting five-year-old girl will be allowed to live, but the dog's owner must abide by several conditions.

Judge Marco Cloutier concluded the little girl was not bitten by the male Staffordshire Terrier named Torque during a house party in Quispamsis on May 1, but rather scratched, based on evidence provided by a veterinarian.
Angela Tracey, owner of pit bull Torque, has many court-ordered conditions, including getting the dog neutered. (Matthew Bingley/CBc)

Pit bulls typically shake their heads while biting, the courtroom heard earlier this week.

Cloutier said photographs of the girl's injuries showed she suffered scratches on her face below her eyes and across her nose.

A Quispamsis bylaw says that a dog that bites, intends to bite, or intends to cause bodily harm could be destroyed

Cloutier said it's impossible to determine the intent of the three-year-old dog.

But the fact that Torque scratched the girl in an attempt to get more of the pizza crust she was hand-feeding him still amounts to an attack, he said.

The severity of the attack, however, was on the lower end of the spectrum, said Cloutier. As a result, Torque does not have to be put down, he said.

The attack occurred during a party at Angela Tracey's home in Quispamsis on May 1. (CBC)
Cloutier did impose several orders on Torque's owner, Angela Tracey.

Torque must be neutered, remain muzzled at all times while off Tracey's property, be secured on her property, either inside or in a pen and be secured around children under 16 when an adult isn't within arm's reach.

Cloutier also ordered that no child under 16 should be allowed to hand-feed the dog.

The mother of the girl, whose identity is protected by publication ban, and two friends left the courtroom clearly disappointed with the judge's ruling. The girl's godfather said he was also unhappy.

Outside the courtroom, Tracey said she has already worked to meet many of the court orders.

Tracey, who owns two pit bulls, had testified she was hosting a party with four adults and six children at her home on French Village Road on May 1.

Neither one of her dogs was restrained during the party and Torque was wandering among the guests, she said.

Tracey ordered pizza and garlic fingers and handed one child pizza crusts to feed to Torque. Afterward, she heard the girl cry out, she said.

Tracey said she initially thought Torque had bitten the girl. 

But after he was seized by town officials on May 3, and she began reviewing photographs of the girl's injuries and speaking to other people, she came to think it was the dog's nails, she said.

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