Forty stitches later and numerous trips back and forth to the IWK for reconstructive surgery and follow-ups has an Amherst paramedic and mother wondering why the dog that injured her daughter has not been euthanized.
The injury took place over the summer at a local RV park Jody Langille and her family enjoy during the summer. As evening rolled around July 26, her daughter visited with another camper. Moments later, Langille was told to come quick. Her daughter was bitten by one of the campers’ three dogs.
“She had stayed there two or three nights prior and she’s been around this dog,” Langille said. “So, she went up. They were going to watch a movie. They were sitting there watching a movie and the dog literally just lunged at her.”
Langille thought one of the campers’ two smaller dogs had bit her 15-year-old daughter Hannah, but when she found out it was the larger English Mastiff that caused the injury Langille grabbed her first aid kit.
“I went up and she was sitting outside on a picnic table and my son was there and he had a facecloth over her forehead… I said take the face cloth away, and he did, and then I said ‘Okay, put it back. I can’t fix that.’ Muscle was exposed.”
Surgeons were able to stitch the injuries to Hannah’s upper and bottom lip, but she was sent to the IWK in Halifax that night to begin the process of repairing the wounds to her forehead. The Langilles have since made five follow up trips to Halifax, at their own expense, but the travel is not what concerns Langille. She doesn’t want anyone else to have the same experience as her daughter.
“I don’t want this to happen to anyone else. I want the dog euthanized.”
Langille says she called the Municipality of Cumberland County’s canine control the next day to report the injury, beginning what she describes as an unsatisfactory and frustrating process.
The dog owners had returned to their Windsor home two days after the incident and before any local investigation had commenced.
Langille provided the Amherst News with what she says is a copy of the cover letter and Canine Control Officer Jamie Spicer’s report the Municipality has sent to the provincial Ombudsman’s office regarding the incident. In it, the officer concluded the dog should not be euthanized after speaking with the owner, a dog trainer chosen by the owners, and a veterinarian from the Windsor area.
According to the report Langille provided, the trainer believes a hot day at the beach with no shade or rest stressed the dog, leading to the aggressive behaviour.
“I determined the dog wasn’t fierce or dangerous, but rather, in a very hyperactive state of sensitivity due to the stressful day it had just experienced,” the report reads.
The Municipality of Cumberland County’s current Dog By-Law 03-01 will excuse an attack or injury caused by a dog if the victim was a trespasser or if the dog was being abused or tormented by the person attacked or injured.
A hot day at the beach with no shade does not appear as a third mitigating factor in the bylaw, nor does it imply any penalties on the owners if they subjected any dog to such conditions.
Efforts to have the Municipality of Cumberland County’s Chief Administration Officer Rene Bugley comment on the application of the bylaw in this case were unsuccessful.
Langille says she believes the county should have followed the guidelines set out in the bylaw as written.
“I don’t want this to happen to someone else. That dog bit once, it will bite again,” Langille said. “I’m not looking for financial restitution. I don’t want to have to take them to court, but it seems to be getting to that point that nobody is listening to us.”
A copy of the municipality’s dog bylaw can be found by clicking here.