'He bit my finger off': Questions linger about foster dogs imported into Canada

After attacks, allegations about discrepancies in border paperwork and fears surrounding a heart parasite becoming endemic to New Brunswick, questions remain about what regulations, if any, are needed regarding foster dogs entering the country.

WARNING: This article contains graphic images

Alicia Scoville says Tiger, a bull terrier mix, could have killed her if it wasn't for her husband coming home. (Submitted/Alicia Scoville)

After recent dog attacks, questions remain about what regulations, if any, are needed to cover foster dogs that are being brought into Canada.

There have also been allegations about discrepancies in border paperwork and fears surrounding health problems.

Alicia Scoville of Saint John says something needs to be done about dogs entering the province through Hearts of the North, an organization that finds foster homes in New Brunswick for dogs slated to be put down in the southern United States.

"They're importing — importing — dangerous animals into our country," said Scoville, who lost part of her right ring finger after being bitten by a dog she adopted from the organization.

Scoville said something needs to be done about dogs entering the province through the organization Hearts of the North. (Submitted/Alicia Scoville)

Last week, the organization came under fire after two recent cases of dog bites.

The first case involved a woman whose lip needed stitches, and in the second, another dog was attacked.

On Friday, more cases involving attacks by imported dogs came to light, as well as alleged discrepancies in paperwork accompanying animals crossing the border.

CBC New Brunswick tried to reach the Canada Border Services Agency, but no one was available for an interview.

Hearts of the North said it's unfair to focus on two unfortunate accidents dog handlers could have avoided.

However, the organization posted on Facebook that it was pausing operations to reflect on the recent allegations.The organization said it has saved thousands of dogs by finding homes in the Maritimes.

Volunteers at Hearts of the North didn't respond to CBC's request for an interview on Tuesday.

In June, Scoville adopted a bull terrier mix, Tiger, from Hearts of the North. She had two older dogs, but said she wanted a companion for the puppy she recently received.

On Tiger's profile, Hearts of the North said he was bad with cats, but good with most other dogs. It said nothing about any aggression toward humans.

Scoville says a dog received from Hearts of the North bit part of her right ring finger off. (Submitted/Alicia Scoville)

Scoville said he was good for the first few months she had him, but then something happened that set Tiger off.

"He shredded my dog, my beagle hound, literally in front of my eyes," she said.

She doesn't know what triggered the attack and said her beagle hound was passive.

She then tried to help her dog, but ended up being attacked herself.

"He bit my finger off," she said.

Tiger only stopped when her husband came home and choked the dog until he became unconscious.

"That dog literally could have killed me," she said. "My three-year-old daughter saw the whole thing."

The original posting about the dog Tiger said it was bad around cats, but mostly good around other dogs. It said nothing about aggression towards humans. (Submitted/Alicia Scoville)

In the end, Scoville was sent to hospital, and her beagle hound went to a veterinarian before being put down.

"He was clinging to life," she said. "His neck was ripped apart, his ear was gone."

Initially, her finger couldn't be reattached. The dog had ripped it off down to the first knuckle.

Scoville told Hearts of the North to come pick up Tiger, which she said is her biggest regret.

Her veterinarian told her the dog needed to be put down, which she said Hearts of the North agreed to do. When CBC News contacted Scoville's veterinarian, she said she didn't want to comment on the matter.

But the organization moved the dog south again and later stopped talking to Scoville and her vet.

She has no idea how the dog was moved south after her vet ordered the dog be put down.

Scoville said despite her veterinarian ordering the dog be put down, the dog was brought back to the southern United States by Hearts of the North. (Submitted/Alicia Scoville)

According to a previous conversation with the dog rescue organization, Transporters Without Borders in Saint John, the Canada Border Services Agency, is the main governing body that checks dogs crossing the border.

As an aesthetician, Scoville said the attack has had a major impact on her life, including financial loss.

She still doesn't have full movement in one hand and can't bend her hand enough to write her name, or even make a fist.

"This is serious," Scoville said. "There needs to be some sort of regulation."

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