Parents Unwilling to Accept Dog attack as "Accident"

An Ontario jury is calling for much tougher laws governing vicious dog attacks.

The jury is part of a coroner's inquest looking into the death of eight year old Courtney Trempe. The Stoufville girl was mauled to death last spring. A death it called accidental .

"If you want to call that an accident, that's an awful accident," says John Trempe, Courtney's father.

On April 27th, 1998, Courtney Trempe was at a neighbour's house in Stouffville, playing in the back yard with friends. That's when the neighbour's dog - a 60 kilogram bull mastiff - attacked. The dog pierced her carotid artery and crushed her windpipe. She died from her injuries. The dog was destroyed.

The Trempe's say the dog had a history of attacking people. They hired a private investigator who found witnesses to back up their theory, witnesses they say the police should have found.

They wanted the jury to find that their daughter's death was by homicide - a ruling that would be purely symbolic, because coroner's inquests can't assign blame.

Today the jury made 35 recommendations, including new laws forcing dog owners to "take more effective control" of problem animals, and allowing the courts to order potentially dangerous dogs destroyed.

It wants fines for irresponsible dog owners substantially increased and they say those people should be prohibited from owning another dog for a specified period of time.

Jurors also want a ban on trained guard or attack dogs, except for police or security agencies and they want a province-wide database to track problem dogs.