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Teenage girl hospitalized after dog bite in Fairways

By: Matt Durnan

  |  Posted: Thursday, May 29, 2014 12:28 pm

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A girl from Airdrie was hospitalized on May 19 after being bitten by a bull mastiff in the Fairways neighbourhood in the city’s northwest.

The incident occurred at 5 p.m. when Alberta Health Services (AHS) and Airdrie Municipal Enforcement were called to the 800 block of Fairways Green. The girl was in the backyard of a residence in the area, along with the dog, when it bit her.

When AHS paramedics arrived on the scene, they found a girl in her early teens with puncture wounds on her arms from dog bites.

The girl was treated and taken to Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary in stable, non-life-threatening condition.

Airdrie’s Municipal Enforcement officers also attended the scene and following an investigation, the dog was impounded at a kennel that is contracted by the City.

“It’s standard procedure with our dog bylaw that when a person is bit, the dog is impounded for 10 days to be observed and to make a determination as to whether the dog has any diseases and whether or not it is a dangerous animal,” said Darryl Poburan, Airdrie manager of Municipal Enforcement.

The fine associated with a dog bite is $350 and the possibility of having the dog put down.

The decision as to whether or not the dog will have to be euthanized is made after the 10-day observation, which looks at factors such as whether or not the dog has had previous biting incidents and if the bite was aggressive in nature.

When it comes to putting a dog down, it’s something that Municipal Enforcement takes very seriously, according to Poburan, who explained that there is a lot of grey area as each incident is unique.

“If we feel that the bite was serious enough, we will let the owner know that we no longer want that dog to be in public,” said Poburan, who says that fines are also based on severity and he feels that there will be a $350 fine in this instance.

“The decision (to euthanize) can be made by two bodies, either the owner of the dog or a judge,” said Poburan.

“If we feel the dog is dangerous we can recommend to the owner that it be put down. If the owner doesn’t want to go that route, we file a report under the Dangerous Dog Act and a judge will then make the decision. We understand that dogs are family pets and we never want to see one put down, but we have to be looking out for everyone’s best interest.”

In 2013, after hearing complaints from residents following a rash of dog bites earlier in the year, council voted for the bylaw to remain status quo after staff presented the fact that from 2008 to February 2013, there were 45 recorded incidents in Airdrie related to dog bites.

At the time, Mayor Peter Brown said the number of dog bite incidents doesn’t justify changing the bylaw.

According to the 2013 report, five dogs were euthanized by their owners in the last five years.

Two of these cases involved dogs biting people, while three involved dogs biting other dogs.

Alderman Allan Hunter, said he feels it may be appropriate to revisit the City’s dog bylaw.

“When you have a dog biting a person it’s a pretty serious incident and it’s our responsibility to look after the safety of our residents,” said Hunter.

“I think that $350 is pretty cheap and we could take a look at whether that amount is in fact enough of a deterrent. It might be worth looking at when and why we set that dollar amount.”

Airdrie Animal Clinic Veterinarian Dr. Jeff Dand said there are a number of warning signs a dog may give off if it’s about to bite.

“If the dog is backing up, or looking away and avoiding eye contact or barking, those are all signs of aggression,” said Dand.

“Another one that can be a bit of a misnomer is wagging the tail - most people think that if a dog is wagging its tail it must be happy, but it can also be a fear indicator in some dogs.”

Along with these tips, Dand said it’s also important to make sure a dog’s owner is close when you are interacting with it and unless you’re very familiar with the dog, avoid aggressive or fast movements.


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