Canine caution in light of recent dog bite

Charges have been laid against a City dog owner after a recent incident involving her 10-year-old Border Collie and a child. Jean Winter has been charged with owning a dog that caused serious injury to person after her dog bit a child while the child was visiting her home.

“There is a possibility that the owners may have the dog voluntarily put down, which would mean the City wouldn’t have to pursue an aggressive dog designation,” said Duane Thomas, animal control officer.

An aggressive dog designation, if the dog is not euthanized, would include provisions such as the dog not being outside unattended, being in a locked kennel if in the yard, walking with a muzzle, not entering off leash areas, attending behavioural training and alerting the insurance company that there is an aggressive dog on the premises.

“It’s really hard to tell what exactly happened at this point because nobody was physically watching the incident to know what provoked the dog.”

The incident took place on June 9 where two-year-old Mikenna Fitzpatrick was bitten in the face while her family was visiting friends. The dog was quarantined for the required 10-day period to determine whether there was a medical issue.

Thomas said there are things that people can do to make their children more canine-cautious as well as knowledgeable. “In most cases if it’s a strange dog with no owner it’s better just not to approach it whatsoever.”

However, if the owner is present Thomas said children do still need to be taught not to reach over a dog’s head to pet it, as that can sometimes mean something to the dog that they don’t like. “If a dog has its tail between its legs or is not looking at you, again you’re just better off not to approach it.”

Thomas said to look for signs of a friendly or excited dog including the tail wagging and ears perked up while the dog is looking at you and not away.

“If a dog approaches you you’re always better off to ignore it and let him sniff you before you react and determine if it’s friendly or not,” said Thomas.

Thomas said it is important to educate children in regards to how to approach a dog, and how to react if and when a dog approaches you.

“The main thing too is for dog owners to make sure that if they have company or people coming over that their dog is not in an area where they can show aggression.”

Thomas said if owners know their dog is aggressive or otherwise unpredictable to simply put them in the yard, another room, or in a kennel.

Fitzpatrick family’s case will be heard in court July 23.