An Oliver woman believes that some officials are hiding behind rules and regulations rather than protecting the public from dogs in local parks.
That’s how Lucille Israel felt after being “attacked” by what she believed was a pit bull in Lion’s Park last week. However, since the incident occurred, officials have said the dog is a mixed breed of Boxer, Rottweiler and terrier.
Israel said she was walking her three Chihuahuas on the hike and bike trail on July 15 when a dog came charging out of the trees.
It happened so fast that Israel had no time to think. She instinctively scooped up her dogs and threw them into a hedge and faced the angry dog head on. The dog started biting her leg, which caused profuse bleeding.
Israel screamed and a nearby skateboarder came to the rescue by restraining the dog by pulling on his leash.
The police were called and Israel soon learned that the dog had a litter of puppies. A lady who was looking after the dog came out of the bushes to help and was quite hysterical about what happened, Israel said.
She learned that the dog is owned by a homeless woman known to police and bylaw enforcement officers.
While waiting for the ambulance, Israel observed the dog come running out of the bush again, this time without a leash.
She then yelled for someone to “stop that dog (before it attacked somebody else)!” Israel believed the dog was coming after her again, but someone managed to stop it.
The woman was taken to the hospital where she was treated for puncture wounds to her leg, which required several stitches. One deep wound was close to an Achilles tendon.
She also suffered a puncture wound to her hand.
At the hospital Israel spoke to the bylaw enforcement officer and to police.
“I begged them to restrain the dog (before it bit another person).”
According to Israel, the bylaw officer said all he could do was issue a bylaw infraction ticket and request that the dog be muzzled.
Israel said the police initially would not attend the incident, saying it was not their jurisdiction. She finally insisted they show up at the hospital.
“As always, someone had to get hurt for the right things to be done,” Israel said. “It appears that the officials’ job isn’t to protect anymore, but hide behind the rules and regulations.”
The woman said she underwent an “interrogation” by police and wanted to press charges, but the officer said she could not do that.
“This dog was a dangerous situation guarding its puppies in a public place,” Israel said.
However, she was thankful that the decision was made to quarantine the dog in the local pound.
Don Moore from SOS Security, a firm that provides bylaw enforcement in Lion’s Park, confirmed the incident occurred, but did not categorize it as an “attack,” saying it was a “bite.”
Moore said the dog has no history of attacks or aggressiveness, but it is being quarantined until a final decision is made in the case.
He noted the dog and its puppies are eating better than ever now.
He confirmed the owner is homeless and there was some indication that she was trying to sell the puppies.
Corporal Brian Evans of the Oliver RCMP said police were initially called to the scene but were unable to attend due to another urgent file.
Evans said the matter is being handled by dog control officer Greg Ivens on behalf of the Town of Oliver.
“There is no criminal aspect to this case, so Mr. Ivens is dealing with it under the bylaws.”
Diane Vaykovich, corporate officer for the Town, said this is an active bylaw enforcement matter, therefore she could not disclose details. However, she did say the Town is in the process of assessing fines and fees under the Animal Control Bylaw.
But Israel is left with questions, such as why there was no bylaw officer in the park that afternoon, and why was a homeless person with a “dangerous” dog allowed to live in the park?
“It (the attack) was almost a life and death situation. That dog was going to kill me . . . it could have grabbed my jugular.”
Stay tuned for more details on this story.
By Lyonel Doherty