Saskatchewan chief feels responsible after boy found dead, mauled by dogs

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SASKATOON - The chief of a northern Saskatchewan reserve where the body of a 10-year-old boy was found mauled by dogs says he feels at fault for the attack.
"I feel responsible, I don't think I should be but I am," said Chief Guy Lariviere of the Canoe Lake Cree Nation. "The leadership feels responsible. We should have done something more, we don't know what."
The reserve, about 300 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon, is grieving the death of Keith Iron.
Police found the boy's body in a yard on the First Nation at about 11:30 a.m. on Saturday. RCMP have not said how the boy died. They would only say Monday that there were three dogs disturbing the body and the cause of death is being investigated by the coroner's office.
Family members have said the boy was attacked by the dogs while he was walking to his cousin's house. It was the same walk Iron made every morning to play.
Lariviere said the First Nation already has a bylaw that says dog owners should tie up animals thought to be aggressive.
"It was meant so that tragedies like this didn't happen because in other communities we had heard of stuff like this going on," said Lariviere.
But the chief said there have been problems enforcing the bylaw and complaints about loose dogs.
"We can't afford to have a dog catcher for one thing. We don't have the money to have somebody shoot them. I've talked to the RCMP, the Mounties there themselves to see if there's any way around this ... and they said 'Well, it's a municipal issue, not ours,' " said Lariviere.
"So we took it back to our office and then we tried to figure out ways on how to do this in as humane a way as possible, but we're having a hard time finding a solution.
"Let's face it, it's hard to shoot Rover."
It's a frustration that the nearby village of Ile a la Crosse knows all too well.
Last fall, the village about 30 minutes north of Canoe Lake hired a man to shoot loose dogs after six-year-old Shiloh Berscheid was badly bitten while playing outside in the village. The little boy had huge gashes across his face and was flown to a Saskatoon hospital where plastic surgeons used 60 stitches to close the wounds.
Ile a la Crosse Mayor Duane Favel said Monday that the community is trying to teach pet owners to take responsibility and properly care for their pets.
"We've worked hard to address our issue in Ile a la Crosse," said Favel, who was in Regina for a municipalities convention.
"Certainly we don't take these incidents lightly, certainly the safety of our kids and our community members is first and foremost. And certainly we will do everything that we can to try and prevent this issue happening again in our community."
Favel said the village doesn't like to shoot dogs, but it will destroy the animals if it comes down to a matter of public safety.
The problem isn't isolated to Saskatchewan.
In 2006, five-year-old Lance Loonskin was mauled to death by a pack of dogs running loose on the North Tallcree reserve in northern Alberta. The attack was so vicious it left the youngster almost unrecognizable.
That same year in Manitoba, a two-year-old boy was mauled to death on the Hollow Water reserve and a three-year-old boy met the same fate on the Sayisi reserve.
Lariviere said therapists are on the reserve trying to help people, especially Iron's classmates, cope with the tragedy. The dogs involved in the attack on Canoe Lake have been shot. The chief also said the bylaws will be scrutinized and he believes the community will pull together to back change.
"I'm 100 per cent sure we'll get support because I know the community's kind of reeling right now about this," said Lariviere.

Organizations: First Nation, RCMP, Saskatoon hospital

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Canoe Lake, SASKATOON Northern Saskatchewan La Crosse Regina Northern Alberta Manitoba

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