The Ridge Meadows RCMP’s killing of a pit bull is being criticized by the dog’s owner and scrutinized by the SPCA amid contradictory accounts about whether the dog’s throat was slashed or not.
RCMP have twice denied taking a knife to the dog’s throat and claim no knowledge of how it died.
The dog attacked 15-year-old newspaper carrier Sarah Metzner on July 24, as she worked her route on 117th Avenue, near Thomas Haney secondary. It broke through the screen on a door to get at her.
The girl’s mother was told officers cut the dog’s throat.
Another witness said they did so twice.
In an online account of the story, Richard Rennie posted that his wife watched almost the entire incident.
“She said the officers tried various measures to get the dog off and in the end resulted to cutting the dogs throat twice, the second cut was deeper and resulted in blood gushing out, so there was definitely blood from the dog, as well as the girl. The dog let go about five minutes after its throat was cut.”
The dog’s owner, Shannon Lind, heard a completely different story. Witnesses told her husband Gord that the dog was strangled using a cord laying in the yard that she had tied the dog up with.
“My husband didn’t want to tell me, because he knew I would be upset. They strangled him with a cord.”
She doesn’t know why the dog attacked the girl, and says it had never attacked anyone before.
Lind explained that Clouse was a two-year-old pit bull. He had been becoming increasingly agitated by the paper carrier dropping the paper through the slot in the door. He would grab at the paper and rip it to shreds.
They eventually covered the mail slot.
But in the heat of the summer, she left the door open, with just the screen closed, and when Metzner came with her delivery, the dog broke through it.
Lind said she tried to get the dog off the girl, but its jaws were locked onto her left hand.
“She was panicked, and I was panicked,” said Lind.
Neighbours ran over to help, and the police arrived quickly, in four police cruisers, and took control.
Lind saw two officers kneeling over the dog – an averaged-sized pit bull, she said – pinning it to the ground. She couldn’t watch the scene, she said, and went into the house.
“They were joking and making comments,” she said, crying. “I thought, ‘Do you not care that someone in here loves that dog?’”
She asserts that police should better know how to deal with an aggressive dog, and have some means to subdue it, such as a tranquilizer.
“I just want the police to be accountable for what they did,” she said. “He was a member of the family.”
RCMP civilian spokesman Dan Herbranson said police did not arrive on the scene intending to kill the dog, and did the best they could under the circumstances.
“The police force feels badly,” he said.
“Why didn’t she go outside and help control the dog?” he asked of Lind, noting that two other neighbours got involved.
“The dog was very, very aggressive toward people, and had already attacked and bitten a child,” he said.
In fact, Herbranson said the question has been asked why an officer didn’t draw his or her sidearm and dispatch the animal with a bullet. But they determined that discharging a firearm in the residential setting could make the situation even more dangerous.
He noted that police are not given specific training in how to calm an aggressive dog. Officers struggled with the dog, using their body weight to attempt to contain and control it. They had used a police baton to pry its mouth open, to free the girl’s arm. The police report also states that they used a “makeshift muzzle to control the animal.”
“By the time the thing was over, the dog had passed away.”
RCMP Cpl. Amanda Dunlop previously said “there was no knife used at all.”
The SPCA is not yet ready to let the issue lie, and is having the dog examined to determine the cause of death.
“We weren’t present. The dog was already deceased when we arrived,” said Maple Ridge branch manager Jennifer Stack.
They talked to neighbours, and heard contradictory versions of events.
Stack said there was not enough blood present for the dog to have been killed by having its throat cut.
Stack said a pathologist will determine how the dog died, and the SPCA will make a determination whether to have an animal protection officer investigate.
“We’ll wait for the pathologist’s report, and take it from there,” Stack said, adding that the report is expected late this week.
Lind said she isn’t trying to minimize the damage her dog did, and it has bothered her.
“I feel terrible. I don’t want to seem like I don’t care what he did.”
The victim suffered a crushed bone, puncture wounds and a torn palm.
She brought the paper carrier a gift basket.
“Just to say I was sorry. I feel really bad what happened.”
The victim’s recollection of the event is “sketchy,” her mother said, because of the trauma she endured.