A vicious dog order has been issued against two dogs believed to have attacked another dog — which had to be euthanized due to the extent of its injuries — in Lively on Jan. 4.
Brendan Adair, manager of Security and Bylaw Services for the City of Greater Sudbury, said the incident is still under investigation.
He isn't able to confirm the identity of the owner of the dogs that attacked eight-year-old Tonka, a purebred Norwegian elkhound, but said there are a number of conditions the animals' owner must meet. Both dogs must be muzzled and tied up or leashed when outside the home so they can't reach another person's property. The order also puts obligations on the owner to notify the city of any changes to their information, such as an address change, within two business days.
“We did receive a report of the dog attack in Lively, and the case has been assigned to an experienced animal control officer for follow up,” Adair said. “As a result, there has been a vicious dog order placed on both animals in this case. This was done to ensure the safety of the community, and to allow us time to continue with an investigation to determine if any further enforcement needed.”
This isn't the first time animal control has had to deal with this particular pet owner, either. In July 2016, the same two dogs — described by Tonka's owner as a husky and a bull-mastiff mix — attacked Tonka. Adair said an investigation was conducted under the former contractor, Rainbow District Animal Shelter, and a fine was issued against the dogs' owner. A vicious dog order was never issued.
These fines are set at $105 with $25 surcharge under the Animal Control bylaw.
There is provincial legislation that allows for an animal to be seized from the owner, but it's rare, said Adair, and to his knowledge, it hasn't happened under the city's watch or under the previous contractor, Rainbow District Animal Shelter.
“We want to stress the importance of responsible pet ownership,” he said. “I can only imagine how the family must be feeling, and as a municipality, we want to extend our deepest condolences. We truly believe that if dogs are leashed, it minimized the risk of this happening almost to the point that it would never happen.
“The owners of the two dogs that attacked the other dog are probably also going through a very difficult time trying to determine what they are going to do. We're looking at all available enforcement options, while trying to work with the dog owner for the safety of the community.”
Meanwhile, Terry Matthews and her family are left hurting after having to euthanize their beloved family dog. She recalls with horror the incident that led to Tonka's grievous injuries.
“I opened my door, and both these dogs were on top of Tonka,” she said from her home in Lively. “I grabbed my shovel and was trying to get them off him, but they were tearing at him. I managed to back them off a bit, when I was able to get Tonka back in the house.
“They ripped him apart. These were kill wounds. These weren't dogs just out for a dog fight. Tonka's skin and hair was left in my driveway. He might have been able to be pieced back together, but I know from what Tonka went through to recover from his injuries in July, he never would have recovered from this attack.”
Matthews said she and her husband had no choice but to euthanize Tonka, which was the veterinarian's recommendation.
“It was very hard, but the vet told us it was the best option,” she said. “He lost so much blood.”
Matthews said she is “disgusted” by the response time from animal control. An enforcement officer didn't show up at her door until six hours after they called to report the incident. At first, she called Rainbow District Animal Shelter (which no longer provides animal control services to the city), and was told to call 311.
“I called the police, and they told me they don't deal with these types of situations,” she said.
She would like the dogs' owner to surrender the dogs. As a pet owner, and an animal lover, she said, you want to make sure your pets are safe at home, not running around the neighbourhood.
“People might say Tonka was only a dog, but he wasn't just a dog to us. I don't even know how to tell my five-year-old grandson that Tonka isn't here any more. He was with us for eight years. He was a clown. After he was attacked, he was in shock, but still sitting there wagging his tail. That's the kind of dog he was.”
Matthews said she won't be pursuing legal action, either. She isn't after money, rather, she just wants to make sure it doesn't happen to anyone else's dog.
“None of this will bring back Tonka, but I want to prevent it from happening to someone else,” she said. “I'm very angry. I've been crying since July. It's hard to have tears left.”