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"Muzzling the biters" TO Sun

November 2nd, 2004, 09:07 PM
Found this guys, thought it was really a good article. Has some more balanced thoughts/stats on dog bites. It obviously is a little bit more balanced then some recent articles... This article April 1999

Muzzling the biters
Rash of deadly dog attacks prompts coroner to probe 'ticking timebombs'
By ALAN FINDLAY -- Toronto Sun
Dogs are not man's best friend in the eyes of 10-year-old Juan Satchwell.

Last spring the happy-go-lucky youngster was walking to his Weston Rd. home from a pal's house three doors away when a neighbour's rottweiler lunged toward his throat.

Juan cowered and held up his left arm. The dog, named Tyson, latched on.

It ripped a gaping hole of flesh and muscle from Juan's tricep and tore two other deep cuts in his arm before Tyson's owners could drag the animal off him.

"I thought I was going to die," Juan said, as he described the terrifying attack.

These days, even his friend's miniature poodle sniffing the ground nearby makes him a little edgy, he says, tracing the skin-graft patches on his arm.

Two weeks before Juan's attack, a little girl from Stouffville was also attacked by a dog. Eight-year-old Courtney Trempe was playing at a friend's house when a neighbour's 60-kilo bull mastiff strolled up to her and locked on to her neck.

Another child's mother tried to wrestle the dog off the little girl, but couldn't. Courtney bled to death.

In the following three weeks, an Oshawa girl, an Etobicoke business owner, a seven-year-old Toronto boy, an eight-year-old Toronto boy and Juan would all be attacked by either a rottweiler or a pitbull.

In most attacks that make headlines, the dogs are put down and their owners seem as shocked and confused as the victims.

'Great dog'

"He was a great dog -- he plays with kids all the time," a stunned Todd Reybroek said of his bull mastiff "Mosley" shortly after the dog ripped the life out of Courtney.

This Tuesday a coroner's inquest in East Gwillimbury will begin to pore over details of Courtney's death, trying to uncover how it happened and how to prevent a similar tragedy in the future.

But given the rash of other attacks, the inquest plans to scour the entire issue of dog attacks and how they can be prevented, said regional coroner Peter Clark.

"What happened to Courtney is not an isolated incident, and to have an inquest into just one type of dog would not be as useful to the public as a more comprehensive and broad look over the whole spectrum of dogs that are family pets," Clark said.

Breeding, training, legislation and penalties against dogs and their owners will all be explored, he said.

One Toronto dog trainer who will be following the inquest with interest said 30% of all dogs he sees are "ticking timebombs" waiting to explode.

Illustrating his point, Eric Bernstein walks behind his Beaches Canine Academy shop toward a home's back fence. On the other side of the plywood barrier is the sound of a loud, barking dog Bernstein says is a German shepherd. As the trainer approaches the fence, the barking turns to snarling and violent pounding against the fence.

"He wants to get at me so bad," Bernstein said, shaking his head.

The dog has spent almost all of its 10-month life enclosed in that yard, he said.

Boredom becomes frustration, frustration becomes anger and soon you've got a dog raging at everything that passes by, he said.

Toronto Humane Society spokesman Amy White agreed with Bernstein's timebomb analogy but was reluctant to estimate a percentage of dogs that might fit the bill.

"There are situations when a dog comes in where staff can't even get in the cage and take them for a walk," she said. "But that's a small percentage of dogs."

But the number of attacks across the continent is rising by about 2% a year, according to insurance firms paying out hundreds of millions of dollars a year on dog-bite claims.

Last fall, Toronto's public health department released a survey analyzing the 1,600 dog attacks on people reported in 1997.

German shepherds, pitbulls, Labrador retrievers and rottweilers were the top four offenders, in that order.

Toronto's city council passed a new bylaw addressing animal attacks in February, enabling animal control officers to place muzzle orders on dogs that have attacked people. In addition, Ontario's Dog Owner's Liability Act allows fines of up to $5,000 against an owner for the actions of the dog.

Two years ago, fed-up politicians in Kitchener and Waterloo took their own bylaws even further.

"What really brought it about was we had a bunch of young punks who had these pitbulls on leashes downtown," explained Dr. Gerhard Hess, general manager of the Kitchener-Waterloo Humane Society. "They would put the dogs behind older people to get them to hurry up."

They decided to outlaw any new pitbulls and clamp down on existing ones with muzzle orders. Since then, reports of pitbull bites have dropped from more than 15 a year to only one in 1998, said Hess.

But many are reluctant to support such legislation elsewhere, arguing that the problem is the type of person who often buys such a breed, not the breed itself.

After being mauled by a rottweiler outside his Scarborough apartment last year, Ken Willimott agrees. Completely blind, Willimott was out for a walk with his guide dog when he heard two other dogs sniffing nearby. He called out to the owners to make sure the dogs were leashed. Instead, they ordered the rottweiler to attack. Willimott needed 40 stitches to close gaping wounds on his arms and head and to re-attach a piece of his left earlobe.

"It's not really the dog's fault," he said. "It boils down to there's too many people that can't look after themselves, so why do they get a dog?"

Better training

Groups like the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association and the Toronto Humane Society say better training for dogs and their owners is the answer.

"We certainly think it should be promoted, especially for people who are buying a breed that's known to be aggressive," said Doug Raven, the association's executive director.

Licensing for trainers would also help to ensure dog owners get the best help and advice, said the humane society's White.

Many trainers agree that licensing and promoting better instruction for dogs and their owners is the way to go.

Most dogs bite because they're afraid of something unfamiliar, rather than being blood-thirsty, said Sharon Dunsmore, whose K-9 Klubhouse runs classes to help dogs with aggression problems.

A year after their daughter's death, the Trempes are eager to begin the inquest, said their lawyer, Christine Zablocki.

"First and foremost, the family hopes the inquest will provide answers to the many questions they have about their daughter's death," she said.

November 3rd, 2004, 09:59 AM
Does anyone else find it ridiculous to point out that pitbull bites have dropped once a ban has been enacted? I mean, it'd be like answering the peanut allergy problem in a school by banning Jiffy Peanut Butter, then reporting that they were successful, because the number of severe reactions to Jiffy Peanut Butter has dropped significantly. Well, duh!

(note:this is in no way a comment on Jiffy peanut butter)

November 3rd, 2004, 07:41 PM
And the good Dr. Hess, said Nothing at that Meeting about punks hanging around downtown with Pit Bulls. His choice of words was a whole lot closer to Bryant's type of rhetoric. So they did ALL THAT to get rid of some delinquents? Couldn't they have just have called their parents? Enforced the 'loitering law' or dog laws currently on the books?

I'm going to hunt that whole report up (Hansard) & see what you think. (There are No Punks mentioned in it!)

November 3rd, 2004, 08:19 PM

(And if not, i'll have to post the whole darn thing, & the Moderator will kill me!)

Anyway, if you read down the page, the quotes from Dr. Hess read nothing like what he's saying here.. :rolleyes:

Anne R.
February 11th, 2011, 08:14 PM
Maybe you could select your pet experts more carefully. I engaged Mr. Bernstein's service to train my dog and he was clearly more interested in the payment, than in results. He was condescending, arrogant and extremely rude. He offered no more advice in one session ($375) than I could have found in 10 minutes online. He offered follow-up calls as part of this service and yet was never available. Be warned!

February 11th, 2011, 09:02 PM

OBVIOUSLY if all Pit Bulls are forced to be muzzled the attacks would drop to all but one per year... funny they don't mention whether or not dog attacks in GENERAL went up or down... I think its fair to assume that the stats didn't change, or weren't in their favour, otherwise we know it would've been mentioned. Breed bans accomplish nothing, they punish the responsible and thats it.