Farwell pit bull attack victims shocked by lack of city action

Victim of identical 2010 pit bull attack said nothing was done despite vociferous complaining, multiple incidents; maybe more than 6 attacks

Two dog attack victims are angry the City of Revelstoke hasn’t taken action to deal with a pit bull-cross that attacked their small dogs. They claim that the same dog has viciously attacked over half a dozen dogs over several years, and are gathering incident reports and plan to take the issue to a city council meeting.

They’re calling into question an animal control system that can’t deal with repeat, violent-offender dogs.

Vittoria van Leur’s Pomeranian Shiloh is recovering after the pit bull rushed her and her leashed dog near Wilson Street on Sept. 8. The dog violently “rag-dolled” Shiloh twice before she could snatch her pet back.

After reading about that recent attack in the Revelstoke Times Review, another incensed dog owner contacted van Leur and the Times Review, showing proof of her complaint to the City of Revelstoke in February of 2011 from a late-2010 attack.

In almost identical circumstances, Beatrice Adjoury was walking her two pugs Paris and Chicho on Wilson Street when the same dog rushed from a home and attacked Paris, causing puncture wounds and an expensive vet bill.

In a Feb. 2, 2011 email to City of Revelstoke bylaw enforcement officer Tim Luini, Adjoury used the exact same terminology to describe the attack, saying the pit bull “rag-dolled” her smaller dog.

In the email, Adjoury complained that the dog was still roaming the neighbourhood off-leash and unmuzzled over two months later. She complained about the lack of professionalism from animal control officers, and offered up the names and telephone numbers of several other dog owners whose animals had been attacked.

“I think it is ridiculous that nothing has been done about this dog and the owner is not being held responsible for their lack of control of their dog,” Adjoury wrote in the February, 2011 email. “Many fear that the next attack could be on a small child as their dog only seems to bite small dogs.

“I would like to know if anything can and will be done by the city regarding this dog,” Adjoury wrote.

Fast forward to 2013, and Adjoury is angry the situation has been allowed to continue. She contacted the animal control officer again, but was told there was no record of that attack on their files. Adjoury points to her email correspondence with the city.

“I go, ‘Really?’” she questioned. “I go, ‘You guys are so incompetent. Shame on you.’ I talked with the city. I talked to everybody. The fact that they’re trying to tell me there’s no record of this at animal control is absolutely ludicrous.

“What is going on in this town?” she asked. “How many more dogs have to be attacked?”

Vittoria van Leur is working alongside Adjoury to contact all the previous dog owners whose animals have been attacked by the dog. Van Leur believes the dog should be put down, and plans to take the ongoing issue to an upcoming city council meeting, hoping to shine a light on an apparent systemic failure.

City of Revelstoke bylaw control officer Tim Luini acknowledged the two attacks, and said animal control officers are now doing frequent patrols of the Wilson Street residence, making sure the dog is always muzzled and not roaming free.

He said city officials have declared the dog vicious, and it could be impounded if it’s found in violation of the city’s animal control bylaw. It states the dog must be muzzled and leashed when out with the owner. When at home, vicious dogs must be enclosed behind a fence or a structure which can keep the dog in and children out.

In fact, according to the city animal control bylaw, all pit bull breeds and pit bull crosses are automatically deemed vicious dogs.

However, Luini said the effort to have this dog destroyed falls under provincial legislation, and local bylaw enforcement officers don’t have the authority to declare the dog “dangerous” – which is a different designation from “vicious.”

“To declare a dog dangerous, we have to believe … strongly that it is going to kill a human or seriously injure a human or another animal,” Luini said. “The definition of seriously injured is the one that always comes up. Dogs fight. What I’ve got back from our animal control people [is] yes, there have been dog bites and everything else, but nothing that would be considered serious.”

Luini also said dog attacks can be traumatic for owners, but they may not be as serious as they look.

“If it’s your dog and [it] gets bit, it’s serious. An animal is like your daughter or son … it’s part of the family. I know where the people are coming from when they’re telling us we’re not doing enough and we should have the dog destroyed,” he said.

“We have done the best we can. We are monitoring over there. We’ve got animal control going by there quite often making sure that it is muzzled and isn’t out running around.”

He said it’s up to the RCMP to pursue the dangerous dog designation. “The RCMP definitely have the authority to do it. It’s not in our bylaw,” he said.

When contacted, RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Thomas Blakney acknowledged the dog was back on the premises. The day after the Sept. 8, 2013 attack, the RCMP told the Times Review the animal had been relocated to a rural area. Just a few days later, it was back.

Cpl. Blakney said RCMP have been patrolling the area to check that the dog is on leash and muzzled when outside. He said RCMP can enforce city bylaws in a pinch, but they leave animal control issues up to the city.

Luini, however, cited the RCMP’s public acknowledgement that the some of the residences in the cabin complex where the dog resides were the subject of police patrols and police investigation for drug activity. He said he was reluctant to get animal control officers too involved in what he felt was a police matter, and acknowledged some conflict between the two law enforcement authorities over the issue.

For now, both Revelstoke animal control and the RCMP say they continue to patrol the area.

Van Leur and Adjoury are continuing to build their case, gathering proof and documenting past attacks, and are looking for other victims. Adjoury is determined to see reform in Revelstoke animal control, while van Leur believes the dog should be destroyed.

Adjoury also said she was promised compensation from a man identified as the owner back in 2011, but never received anything. A friend of van Leur’s has set up a relief fund at Revelstoke Credit Union (#334040) to help her pay for substantial vet bills, which included several days of observation at the vet clinic.