Has your four-legged best pal ever been attacked by another dog? Or has your pooch even been the canine culprit?
Dog-on-dog attacks are not rare in Vancouver. In fact, many happen every year, although some incidents are far less problematic than others. If leashed, most doggy disputes are the stuff of snarls and posturing. And, if their owners are aware that their dog is aggressive and they are responsible, they will employ the proper tools to protect other animals from them.
But not all incidents of canine aggression are benign.
Sadly, many dogs are brutally mauled and sometimes killed by other dogs. Several of these incidents make headlines and end up in court, too.
What should you do if your pooch is the victim of an attack?
Animal Law lawyer Victoria Shroff told Vancouver Is Awesome that dog attacks are fairly common and she often gets inquiries about them. However, she can't give specific legal advice as each situation is unique.
"I'd have to have a consultation and make my own inquiries into the particular facts," she explained.
But there are some things you should try to do while you're at the scene of the incident. If possible, you should get the contact details of the owner and their dog's information, such as a tag identification if they are licensed and the inoculation history of the dog. Unfortunately, however, many dogs are not licensed.
"This information may be important for the treating vet to know if you take your pet in for an exam following an altercation," Shroff said.
You should also get the details of any witnesses and "make notes, take pictures," she added. "Stay as calm as possible, get your pet the care he or she needs. Some people go back later (after they've tended to their pet) to the place where the attack occurred, they put up posters asking for witnesses.
"I find in dog parks and in neighbourhoods, people get to know each other and know how to avoid other folks and dogs who don't play nice."
While owners/guardians of dogs or cats may be sued for damages, each case depends on many factors.
Keeping dogs safe in Vancouver
John Gray, manager of Animal Services for the City of Vancouver, told V.I.A. that all dogs must be leashed unless they are at one of the 39 designated off-leash areas across the city, "and even then the owner must remain in control their dog."
Dog owners are also encouraged to read up on responsible dog ownership tips. To make for a well-behaved dog, teach your dog basic commands such as sit, stay, come, and down. Socialize your dog with different people and settings.
If your dog is involved in an attack (injured or aggressor) and you require immediate assistance, call:
- 311 between 8 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
- 911 between 7:30 p.m. – 8 a.m.
When calling, you need to identify if you need support on site or if you are transporting your animal to care. If at any time you feel threatened or unsafe, you should call 911.
Past incidents may also be reported by calling 311 between 7 a.m. – 11 p.m. The City’s Animal Services staff investigate and enforce against dogs and owners in accordance with the Animal Control By-Law and will follow up within 72 hours.
If you are a bystander or witness a dog attack, call 311 between 7 a.m. – 11 p.m. and Animal Services staff will follow up within 72 hours.