Second off-leash dog attack this year

“It was like déjà vu – it was happening all over again.” - dog bite victim

Kim Monteith felt a burning on her arm, looked down and saw blood gushing out of a wound on her forearm where she’d just been bitten.

When she looked up the owner of the dog that had bitten her was walking off, apparently unaware that Kim had been bitten twice, once on the forearm and once on her leg.

“It was like déjà vu – it was happening all over again,” said Kim.

She had just been attacked by an off-leash dog, the second attack in six years, the previous attack having occurred in her front yard, not far from where she had just been bitten.

“I was yelling at the dog’s owner. He didn’t even ask whether I was OK. He just walked away,” said Kim from a day bed at Kitimat General Hospital where she was receiving yet another batch of strong antibiotics intravenously.

When the Northern Sentinel interviewed Kim, her veins were in shock, making it difficult for hospital staff to find a new location for the needle, and painful for her.

Her forearm was red, swollen with infection, the gash now closed up with stitches, covered with a wound dressing.

Kim’s nightmare began on Monday morning last week when she took Magnum, her German Shepherd/Labrador/Collie mix, for a walk to the park near her home on Starling Street.

“As we came around the corner I saw the dog, about the same size at Magnum, walking off his leash in an area where he was supposed to be on a leash,” said Kim.

She said the dog’s owner was walking 10 feet behind his dog when the dog made eye contact with her.

“He came at me and I backed up with Magnum until I was pinned up against a fence. At some point I got it,” said Kim, referring to the bite on her arm.

The dog’s owner came over and dragged his dog off, walking away without checking on Kim.

“I saw the gash – the blood was pumping out. I was yelling at him, but I stopped because I knew I had to get home and stop the bleeding,” said Kim, who later returned and traced the drops of blood back to the spot where she was bitten.

Kim’s husband was in Vancouver at the time, so she ran to her neighbour, who drove her to the hospital. She received a number of stitches, both inside the wound and on the outside to close the gaping wound.

The infection started soon after, requiring two different antibiotics delivered intravenously three times a day, early morning, after lunch and late at night.

When Kim was attacked by an off-leash dog in her front yard six years ago, she spent a week in hospital with severe bite wounds to the face.

The previous attack left her traumatized, unable to walk Magnum, until recently when she scraped up the courage to start walking him again.

“You just want to get back to a normal life. I was just getting to the point where I wasn’t afraid anymore when this attack happened,” said Kim.

“I can handle a lot of things, but being scared isn’t one of them. That guy took everything away again.”

She doesn’t blame the dog for her latest attack – she lays the blame squarely on the owner.

“The guy’s dog wasn’t after me. The dogs were just being dogs and my forearm got in the way,” said Kim. “If he had had his dog on a leash, this would never have happened to me. I never had a chance.”

Kim said no dog owner should be scared to take their dogs for a walk. The only consolation for Kim is that it wasn’t her 17-year-old daughter walking Magnum, which she does often in the same park.

“All the years I have been walking there, this is the first time I saw the dog and its owner,” added Kim.

District of Kitimat chief administrative officer Warren Waycheshen said the district’s contractors, the Kitimat Community Humane Society, are investigating the matter.

“The Humane Society has requested the district’s support in investigating the incident.

“At this time they are asking for witnesses and following up on tips that have been provided,” said Waycheshen.

This attack follows closely on the back of another attack in June in which a postal worker was bitten several times by an off-leash dog on her rounds.

Postal worker bitten by Rottweiler

The Humane Society applied to the court and obtained a destruction order for the Rottweiler that attacked the postal worker.

Waycheshen said the Humane Society patrols Kitimat for six to eight hours a day, paying special attention to problem areas.

“They have also put in place some evening patrols in areas that have received complaints about loose dogs after the shelter has closed. The driver is on call 24/7 for any emergency or to deal with dogs that are running at large,” said Waycheshen.

Since patrols were stepped up, several dogs have been impounded and letters of compliance given to owners whose dogs the Humane Society feels are a concern for public safety.

“Dogs are required to be on leash and under owner’s care and control at all times within the Kitimat townsite,” said Waycheshen. “Areas within Kitimat that dogs are allowed off-leash at the owner’s risk are Hirsch Creek Park and Dyke Road.”

He said fines the district can issue dog owners can range anywhere between $30 and $500.

“The fine can be even higher if the animal is not spayed or neutered, does not have a micro ship or has been designated dangerous,” said Waycheshen.

According to medicinenet.com, the potential for infection from a dog bite is extremely high.

“Dog bites inoculate bacteria deep into tissue, and while not as aggressive as cat bites, the majority of dog bites get infected.

“Common bacteria involved in such infections include streptococcus, staphylococcus, and pasteurella.”

Ordinarily the Northern Sentinel would not publish a graphic photo such as the one of Kim’s bite wound. However, after much debate we felt that in order to properly illustrate the severity of the attack we needed to use the photo. – Ed.

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