Coco, a 15-year-old dog, suffered serious neck injuries after being attacked by another dog Saturday on the Colquitz River Trail. Photo submitted

Dog broke free from owner prior to attack

Attack by Staffordshire terrier resulted in $1,300 vet bill for 15-year-old dog

The owner of the dog that seriously injured another dog promises to abide by the decision of Saanich’s animal control services. The Staffordshire terrier, one of the breeds commonly referred to as a pit bull, attacked a 15-year-old dog who was walking on leash with its owners along the Colquitz River Trail.

“It’s my fault,” said Mike, who did not want to use his last name. “My dog got loose on me.”

Mike said he has owned dogs for 35 years and never had an incident that resulted in an injury to a person or another dog. “This was a very unfortunate incident,” he said.

Sgt. Jereme Leslie of the Saanich Police said the incident remains under investigation. Animal control services could either deem the dog “dangerous” or “aggressive,” with “dangerous” dogs subjects to more severe restrictions such as muzzling.

Mike said the restrictions on dogs deemed “dangerous” could be prohibitively expensive and force their owners to put them down.

The incident happened at about 6:15 p.m. Saturday near the intersection of Interurban Road and Dumeresq Street.

A Saanich couple was walking with their dog Coco on the Colquitz River Trail near Colquitz middle school when Mike’s dog escaped his hold.

“I had attached the leash to his collar and had stepped on the leash, so I could use both hands to put the halter back on,” he said. “I was just putting the halter on when my dog started to squirm and managed to escape my clutches.”

Mike said a large cedar hedge obstructed his view of what was happening. “My initial concern was my dog running onto the street or onto Interurban. Only after rounding the corner did I see the couple and their dog Coco.”

Contrary to previous reports, Mike said he did not see his dog immediately attack the other dog.

”He ran up to the man and his dog and for a moment the two dogs met nose to nose,” he said. “I could see both dogs had very alert postures. There was a very brief pause and sniff, but things changed very quickly. I saw my dog reach out and I knew he probably bit Coco.”

He said Coco’s owner did his best to try to break things up, first by kicking the Staffordshire and then by falling on both dogs.

Mike said he does not know why his dog would bite. “In my experience when two strange dogs meet, if one dog is apprehensive and twitches or growls or feints a nip, the other dog may respond just as my dog did,” he said. “There was no doubt that there was tension in the air as I could see the apprehension on the face of Coco’s owner. It did not help that…Coco is an older female and my dog is a young rambunctious male.”

The injuries to Coco required veterinarian treatment that added up to $1,300. Mike covered that bill, but also questioned the extent of the treatment that the dog received.

He said he understands that the incident has traumatized the couple, but also said the incident appears as something that it was not. “The dog is portrayed as some huge pit bull which aggressively charged at this other dog and went around the owner to get at him,” he said. “That is not what I saw.”

Mike said his dog weighs about 70 pounds – not 130 pounds as described by the owner of the other dog. “I agree that the public needs to be protected against dangerous dogs,” he said. “But the question is how we protect them.”

“I have nothing to apologize for,” he said, when asked whether he had apologized to the couple. “They [the couple] were a lot happier that I paid the [veterinarian] bill.”

wolfgang.depner@saanichnews.com

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