Last week my dog Sheamus and I were attacked by a Staffordshire bull terrier. Sheamus required 17 stiches on and around his ear. I had four punctures that required a visit to the ER, a tetanus shot, and antibiotics. Not our best day.
Through this experience, I’ve learned we all can take precautions to manage the realities of dog violence to help keep our community safe.
First, the SCRD already has bylaw 376 that classifies Staffordshire bull terriers as “vicious dogs,” which requires that these dogs and related breeds be kept indoors or in a child-proof outdoor pen at all times, and muzzled and leashed everywhere else in the region.
We all have a role in helping to avoid dog violence. If you have a neighbour with an animal classified as a “vicious dog,” talk to them about the bylaws or call the SCRD. This small step can help prevent injury to a dog, a child, or a neighbour. If these bylaws were being followed, both my dog and I would not have been injured.
Second, B.C. needs to enact laws that create absolute liability for dog owners. This legal change would help align the law with what most people would consider common decency. If your dog causes damage, as the dog’s owner, you should be responsible for addressing that damage.
This approach is already used in Ontario and other regions, and ensures dog owners are accountable for their dog’s actions and take appropriate precautions. This needs to be paired with the opportunity for dog owners to purchase insurance, so that responsible owners can be protected in exceptional circumstances.
Dog attacks are all too common. Staffordshire bull terriers are part of the pit bull family, which in 2019 killed 33 people in the United States, according to DogBite.org. But together, we can take a measured approach to help keep our community safe.
Andrew Rusk, Garden Bay