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Video: Pit bull at large after two maulings in the Donovan

At least two dogs, including an eight-month-old shih tzu named Max and a beagle/shar-pei mix named Brandy, 13, have been violently mauled by what is believed to be the same pit bull

In two separate incidents, an eight-month-old shih tzu and a 13-year-old beagle/shar-pei mix were violently mauled by a pit bull in the Donovan neighbourhood last month.

The victim dogs’ owners were also injured during the attacks. One owner was pushed down and the other had her arm clamped down on by the pit bull and torn open.

A city spokesperson said the city’s bylaw department is “actively investigating” both attacks and haven’t confirmed if the same dog was responsible. Both of the victim dog owners shared a similar experience in the same neighbourhood and said they believe the same dog was at fault.

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Brandy, a 13-year-old beagle/shar-pei mix, cuddles on the couch with her owner, Sylvia Carpenter, two weeks after being violently mauled by a pit bull in the Donovan neighbourhood. Stitches are seen zig-zagging around her face. Tyler Clarke / Sudbury.com

The pit bull suspect remains at large.

“I’m afraid to walk in my neighbourhood because I don’t know where that dog is,” Sylvia Carpenter, 69, told Sudbury.com this week, several days after her 13-year-old beagle/shar-pei mix, Brandy, was attacked.

Given how quickly the attack happened, seemingly out of nowhere, she’s concerned it’ll happen again.

“I don’t even want to go for a walk anymore because I’m afraid,” she said. “I would rather it attacked me than my poor dog. She’s 13 and only minds her own business ... and isn’t a threat to anybody.”

The first attack took place on May 16 at approximately 5:30 p.m., when Donna Marie Côté, 60, and her son, Chris, were taking eight-month-old shih tzu, Max, for a walk around the block.

They saw a woman being dragged by a pit bull on a rope, and turned into their back lane to avoid them. They’d seen the dog around before, and neighbours had been warning each other to avoid it.

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Donna Marie Côté holds up her shih tzu, Max, who was mauled by a pit bull in the Donovan neighbourhood last month. Tyler Clarke / Sudbury.com

Soon after they pulled into the back lane, the pit bull broke loose and made a b-line to maul Max. Video footage of the attack was captured on a backyard security camera.

Côté picked Max up by his harness and protected the shih tzu using her right arm, which the pit bull bit into, ripping through her skin. Through the attack, Max fell to the ground. The pit bull clamped down on Max by the throat, shook him like a chew toy and eventually tossed him aside after Max became limp.

Max’s saving grace, Côté said, was that he had his front-left paw up between his neck and the pit bull’s teeth, where it sustained deep gashes instead of his neck.

Although Côté said her memory has become fuzzy around certain details, the witness statement form Chris submitted to city bylaw notes that the pit bull’s handler joined others by leaving the scene as soon as police were mentioned. Côté was taken to the hospital and Max was taken to an emergency veterinarian, both to receive treatment for their respective tissue wounds.

Both Côté and Max were still healing from their injuries when Sudbury.com visited them this week. 

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Brandy, a 13-year-old beagle/shar-pei mix, is seen in her home this week, sporting a collection of stitches zig-zagging around her face after being mauled by a pit bull two weeks ago in her Donovan neighbourhood. Tyler Clarke / Sudbury.com

Although Max appeared to be playful, Côté said he’s been extra cautious since the attack, and has started cowering when he hears other dogs barking instead of jumping excitedly like he used to.

At approximately 2:50 p.m. on May 24, Carpenter was walking Brandy when a pit bull came out of nowhere, knocked her down and lunged for Brandy’s throat. 

The pit bull shook Brandy violently, tearing the dog’s skin. Carpenter screamed for help. 

A friend spotted the violent scene and hopped off a bus to help, and Brandy took off running toward home as soon as she was freed from the pit bull’s grip.

“This poor dog, when the dog let loose of her she ran all the way home, she did not stop,” Carpenter said, adding that since Brandy is both elderly and overweight she’s thankful the senior dog didn’t have a heart attack.

Carpenter flagged down a police officer on her way back home. She let Brandy in the front door, where the dog left a messy trail of blood toward the basement, where she hid under the stairs.

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Max is pictured earlier in his recovery with his leg bandaged up to prevent him from licking the wounds he sustained from a pit bull attack last month. Supplied

“The house looked like a crime scene,” Carpenter said. She enlisted the police officer she’d flagged down to help get Brandy into her car to be taken to the veterinarian.

Carpenter lost count of how many stitches Brandy received during the multiple hours she remained under anesthetic at the veterinarian’s office. It was so bad that Carpenter said veterinarians could see parts of Brandy’s skull.

When Sudbury.com visited Carpenter and Brandy this week, Carpenter said she was still sore from being knocked over, and Brandy remained on the road to recovery. Stitches could be seen zig-zagging around Brandy’s face and neck, which she rubbed against a couch for some relief.

“She has come along,” Carpenter said. “We go for our walks, but she’s slow.”

Similar to Max, Carpenter said Brandy has become a bit more timid around other dogs, and looks around nervously when she hears barking.

Côté said she came to Sudbury.com with her story because she wants to warn her neighbours about the pit bull and for the city to do something about it before another attack takes place.

Carpenter shared her story for similar reasons, clarifying that although the city’s bylaw department was working with her, she wants the pit bull dealt with as quickly as possible so no one else has to suffer an attack.

“I need to know that it’s found and I can walk in that area and not be afraid,” Carpenter said.

A city spokesperson told Sudbury.com that the bylaw department is currently investigating three dog-attack incidents in the city, including the attacks against Côté/Max and Carpenter/Brandy. 

“We are actively investigating the reported attacks and information related to the whereabouts of the dog(s) and its owner(s) can be reported to 311 or Crime Stoppers,” they said. 

Anonymous tips can be made to Crime Stoppers by phoning 1-800-222-8477.

“We cannot confirm if the dog in both incidents is the same at this time. Officers are actively reviewing video from surrounding properties for both incidents,” the city spokesperson said.

“The City responds to complaints of animal attacks with all due attention and concern. Where a dog has attacked without provocation or mitigation factors we would potentially issue a Vicious Dog Notice and charges laid under the Animal Control Bylaw.”

Last month, Greater Sudbury city council approved a series of steps toward preventing dog attacks, including an upcoming ban on vicious dogs from visiting dog parks and off-leash areas. A public education campaign is expected to begin soon, with a focus on keeping dogs leashed.

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.


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Tyler Clarke

About the Author: Tyler Clarke

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.
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