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Old January 19th, 2003, 08:27 PM
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'Angel' saved girls from vicious dog

'Angel' saved girls from vicious dog
U of A student says anyone would have done the same thing

Ian Williams, Journal Staff Writer
The Edmonton Journal

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

A quick-thinking Edmonton university student is credited with saving a Vermilion girl during a dog mauling which left her with numerous bites and bruises.

Ten-year-old Caitlin Bobryk was protecting her younger sister from a growling, snapping dog when it turned and savaged her in a Vermilion park Saturday. But Brett Buchanan, 19, scooped her up and carried her to a nearby car dealership, all the while keeping the aggressive dog at bay.

"We've been trying to call him and to say thanks," said Caitlin.

She's recuperating at home from the attack that left her with 27 bruises and deep, tearing wounds on her body.

Caitlin's arms and her back were mauled, said her mother Jennifer. And "the doctor said the one wound on her thigh was three inches deep. There was a couple of more that ranged from 2 to 21/4 inches deep."

Jennifer says she can never repay Buchanan for what he did.

"He's an angel. He's definitely a hero. If it wasn't for him it could have been both my girls. It's bad enough for one of them. Not everybody would do that nowadays. Somebody could have just kept on walking."

But Buchanan, a first-year University of Alberta student, doesn't think he did anything exceptional.

"I don't really consider myself a hero. I was in the right place at the right time. I did what anybody else would have done in that situation."

Caitlin and her five-year-old sister, Taylor, had been at Lakeland Mall, a block from their home, to buy some chocolates. And as they headed across the playground at St. Jerome's Separate School, a neighbour's dog came running at them.

"I think it was going to attack Taylor because it was chasing her, but then I told Taylor to quit running and come stand by me," said Caitlin.

"The dog turned around and it walked back a little bit. As we turned around to go back home, he turned around and jumped and pushed me down."

As the dog ripped at Caitlin, Buchanan said he heard screams. He turned around and ran to help.

"When I was right over there he was attacking her badly. Once I got there he kind of backed off. I picked her up and I was carrying her and her little sister was walking with us. I kind of raised my hand at him and he growled so I figured that wasn't a good idea. I just kind of let him walk with us and I kept an eye on him."

Buchanan wanted Taylor to seek safety at the mall, but when she walked away from him, the dog began to follow her. "She was getting really scared so I tried to get her to walk ahead and tried to get her to walk to the mall. But he started following her so I just got her to wait and we all walked together."

Larry Alward, manager of College Park Motor Products, saw Buchanan and the terrified girls, called 911 and beckoned them to come into the dealership to wait for the ambulance.

"For what she went through she was a very, very brave girl. It was just amazing," said Alward, who praised Buchanan for keeping a clear head during the difficult time.

Jennifer, who works in Mannville, had to rush back to Vermilion to be by her daughter's side at the hospital.

"The thoughts in my head were just crazy. All I knew was she was attacked. It was the longest trip of my life, usually it only takes 10 minutes."

She said Caitlin was in surgery for three hours and was released from hospital Sunday afternoon.

She said the dog belongs to a neighbour. "When people walk by our house or into our yard, this dog is on the end of its chain barking and growling."

Sgt. Chuck Jackson, from the Vermilion RCMP detachment, said the dog is at a local veterinarian clinic where it will remain for 10 days to ensure it doesn't have rabies. Then it will be destroyed. The owner faces at least a $200 bylaw fine which might eventually go higher, he said.

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