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Reporting vicious attack a responsibility
While most dog owners in Courtenay and Comox seem to be sensible, responsible folk, some quite clearly are not.
Recently, my husband was attacked by a large, white dog which had broken loose from its owner and made a bee line towards him. The approaching dog looked menacing so my husband picked up our very small dog before the other animal reached him.
The white dog knocked my husband to the ground and bit his thigh.
Thanks to some caring and helpful people, we were able to track down the owner and reported the incident to the RCMP.
This, however, prompted me to look more closely at the local bylaws on dog control. These are reasonable and fair for both Courtenay and Comox but it is neither reasonable nor fair to choose to ignore them.
Dogs out in public places have to be on a leash at all times. This doesn't mean one of those extensible ones either — it can't be more than two metres long. Oh, and there has to be somebody on the other end of it who can keep the dog under control.
Letting the dog run off trailing its leash doesn't count as complying with the bylaws. Having the animal trot along beside you off the leash is against the law, no matter how obedient you think it is. Of course, allowing the dog to roam free after dark or at any other time is also illegal.
Quite an amazing number of people think it's fine to let their dog defecate in public places and don't bother to clean up the mess. Your dog can't go off and dump its load or pee in other people's front yards either while you stand there watching it then walk off. There's a bylaw against that, too.
Allowing your dog to bark for prolonged periods and disrupt the neighbourhood is another unacceptable behaviour that is banned by bylaws in Comox and Courtenay.
The bylaws on dangerous dogs are very clear.
A dog is deemed to be vicious of it has killed or injured any person or domestic animal or even if it is known to have the propensity to attack with or without provocation or approaches in a menacing fashion or apparent attitude of attack.
No one is allowed to keep within the City of Courtenay any animal that fits this definition.
In the case of an attack, there are always people ready to offer excuses for the offending animal's behaviour or even to attempt to blame the victim by suggesting that he somehow provoked the incident.
The cliche, “There are no bad dogs, just bad owners” becomes worse than meaningless when you're lying on the ground trying to protect yourself against teeth ripping at your flesh.
Quite obviously, there are bylaws in place for our protection but they are only as effective as we are prepared to make them. No authority can act unless the victim files a complaint and provides as much information as possible.
In our case, the SPCA and the bylaw enforcement officer for the City of Courtenay were prompt to act. Making excuses for not reporting a dangerous animal may well have very damaging results. None of the following justifies failing to do so.
Reporting a vicious attack isn't just a right — it's a responsibility. I'm well aware that there will be those who will leap to the dog's defence, to blame the owner, and to argue that putting the animal down is not a solution.
Perhaps, however, they would think differently if they still had puncture wounds oozing blood five days later. Or would they be prepared to turn a blind eye and to risk having a vicious dog injure another adult, kill someone's pet, or mutilate a child?
I most certainly would not.