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Pit bull, owner sought after attack on woman and guide dog in park

Jul 31 2012
Lise Anthony with her dog India talk to Animal Control Officers Ian Fraser, middle, and Adam Sheffield at Barnard Park 

Lise Anthony with her dog India talk to Animal Control Officers Ian Fraser, middle, and Adam Sheffield at Barnard Park

Photograph by: Adrian Lam , timescolonist.com (July 30, 2012)

Victoria Animal Control Services is investigating an incident in which a woman was bitten by a pit bull that attacked her guide dog.

Lise Anthony, who has epilepsy, said she was walking her dog, India, in Barn-ard Park off Esquimalt Road Saturday evening when two men arrived with a sandy-coloured pit bull. 

Dogs are required to be on a leash in the park, which has a tennis court and children’s playground. But Anthony said the pit bull was running free and coming toward India in an aggressive manner.

“I must have told them three times to put their dog on leash and they did nothing,” she said. “They didn’t even call the dog back.”

Anthony said she grabbed India’s collar, but the pit bull kept coming closer and then, finally, attacked.

The pit bull missed India’s neck and sank its teeth into Anthony’s arm instead, she said.  

“The guys never came in to rip the dog off. It was the girl I was talking with that ripped the pit bull off to give me some room.”

One of the men then bolted from the park with the dog as witnesses called 911. The other man stayed for a few minutes, but left before police arrived.

Anthony said she suffered three puncture wounds and later went to hospital to receive a tetanus shot. India was unharmed.

Anthony said India has had repeated run-ins with pit bulls that have turned her against the breed in recent years. India, who is trained to bark for help if Anthony is having a seizure, was bitten by another pit bull in the same park just two months ago, and, in a third incident, was attacked by two pit bulls at the same time.

“It’s pretty scary around here lately,” she said. “The straight breed of pit bulls — I’m very unsure of.”

Anthony favours tougher regulations for the breed, arguing that pit bulls are being improperly trained and handled by their owners. “I think they all should be on muzzles, the way this is happening,” she said.

“I used to love them because a pit bull was the first dog to ever read my seizures before they hit. I loved them and I always wanted one. But the last probably seven years, I’m totally against them now.”

Ian Fraser, a senior animal control officer, said Monday that investigators are still looking for the pit bull and its owner.

“At this point, we don’t have enough information to identify anyone,” he said. “We’re working on that. We have a number of witnesses that we still need to contact.”

Generally speaking, Fraser said an owner could face a $300 ticket for a dog attack and an additional $100 fine for having the dog off-leash. Steps could also be taken to have the dog designated dangerous.

Fraser said dog owners need to be aware of park regulations and keep proper control of their dogs.

One of the problems with dog attacks is that the animals, like humans, suffer psychological as well as physical wounds, he said. In the case of a working dog, that psychological harm can undermine their effectiveness.

“It can become aggressive and then it can’t concentrate on its working duties,” he said. “A lot of time and money and effort is put into these dogs to help people, and then it can all be undone by a careless or ignorant person not having proper control over their dog.”

lkines@timescolonist.com

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