The City of Surrey says a bulldog that attacked a mother and her seven-year-old son at a Newton bus stop last week has been returned to its owner, but will now be subject to various restrictions.
“The dog will have to be leashed and muzzled and is not permitted to be off-leash in off-leash parks. The dog needs to be leashed and muzzled off of the owner’s property for the duration of the dog’s life going forward,” said Kim Marosevich, acting manager of public safety operations.
Marosevich said the animal has been deemed “vicious,” under the city’s bylaw. A lower designation would be “aggressive” and the highest would be “dangerous,” the latter of which is used when animals cause serious injuries or if there are multiple attacks that escalate.
The incident happened at approximately 4:30 p.m. on May 29, near King George Boulevard and 60th Avenue. Police officers were first on scene and confined the animal until bylaw officers arrived.
Initially, Marosevich had told the Now-Leader the animal may be euthanized as no owner had yet been found.
Having now made contact with the owner, she said the city has issued roughly $1,200 in tickets and the annual dog licensing fee for the animal has jumped from $40 to roughly $215, in addition to the restrictions implemented.
Marosevich said it sounds like the bulldog got loose when its owner had visitors over.
“In comings and goings of the company at the house, the dog got loose,” she said. “With additional people at the house, nobody noticed immediately.”
Some time after is when the attack occurred.
“Initially she approached and there was some concern about her approaching,” said Marosevich, “and things got ramped up a bit.”
She said it’s uncertain whether the bulldog bit or just scratched the boy, but that the mother was bitten.
“Sometimes recollection is difficult in terms of the exact circumstances. It’s unclear if boy was scratched. It’s possible the dog did jump on him, but the mother was bitten,” she explained. “They were discharged immediately from the hospital, the injuries were minor. But of course in any circumstance where there’s an aggressive incident, that can be particularly upsetting.”
Marosevich said the city will be following up annually with the owner and the bulldog to ensure the requirements are being met.
She said the situation is unfortunate all around, for those who were attacked and for the dog.
“Now a young dog, the dog is about a year old, will now be required to be managed for the rest of its life and have limitations.”
“This incident could have been prevented,” said Marosevich, adding that there was a “significant gap in responsibility of the dog owner.”
“It happens a lot with our stray dogs,” she said of animals leaving a property when visitors attend a home. “A lot of times it’s just someone irregular in the household who doesn’t know the rules or the routine.”
In 2017, the former city council repealed the Dog Responsibility and Pound Bylaw and replaced it with the new Animal Responsibility Bylaw.
Key objectives of the new bylaw were said to be to “better prevent dog bites, mitigate risks associated with aggressive dogs and promote responsible dog ownership” but did not go as far as banning any specific breeds.
The review was launched in June, 2016 after two dog attacks in 10 days. Then, at the end of 2016, a pair of pit bulls were euthanized after two separate attacks in the Tynehead area in about two months.