Tracy Holmes photo Suzanne Horne says she feels Surrey’s bylaw enforcement isn’t doing enough to locate and speak with an out-of-area resident whose dog allegedly bit her more than four months ago.

Non-resident ‘challenges’ delay South Surrey dog-bite investigation: city

Suzanne Horne says she was bitten Nov. 27

A Crescent Beach woman is echoing a fellow resident’s concerns about the City of Surrey’s dog bylaws, frustrated that seemingly little has been done with her report of being bitten four months ago.

Suzanne Horne, 70, said she contacted the city after an on-leash dog bit her bum – breaking the skin – in the parking lot behind Beecher Place on Nov. 27.

The incident occurred, Horne told Peace Arch News March 25, after she followed an aggressive driver who had sped past her coming into the Crescent Beach area.

Parking diagonally behind the offending driver’s truck, she said she got out and reminded the woman who had been behind the wheel, of the area’s 30 km/h speed limit. The woman did not respond, said Horne, but simply continued leashing her dog, which then jumped out of the truck.

“The dog headed right for me,” said Horne, noting the leash was a retractable one. “I thought the dog was just happy. Of course, I’m not looking at the dog.

“The dog goes past my back, bites my rear. I look at her and I go, ‘Ma’am, your dog just bit me.’”

The dog owner made no effort to stop her dog, check if Horne was OK or apologize, Horne said.

After months of checking on the file, Horne said Surrey bylaw officials told her the dog has been deemed dangerous. At the same time, she was told as efforts to locate it and its owner have been unsuccessful, “they weren’t prepared to go any further.”

They noted challenges with enforcing the animal-responsibility bylaw on non-residents, Horne said.

“I think they’re just trying to pacify me.”

The city’s manager of bylaw services, Kim Marosevich, confirmed that reports involving animals that don’t live in Surrey, or whose owners are transient, can be difficult to resolve.

“The dog in question appears to reside in another municipality and we have been working with the resident municipality to locate the dog and owner,” Marosevich told Peace Arch News.

“As of yet, we have been unable to do so.”

Marosevich said Port Coquitlam Bylaw Services is following up on the investigation “and will notify us if they are able to locate the owner and dog.”

“If they are located… we can issue fines and follow up on the designation supported by the evidence.”

Surrey has four dog designations in its animal-responsibility bylaw: normal, aggressive, vicious and dangerous.

Marosevich noted Surrey can order requirements such as a leash or muzzle for a designated dog for when it is actually in Surrey, but it would be “up to the resident municipality to decide if their bylaw permits them to consider the incident investigated by us as sufficient to designate a dog there and at which level.”

Serving tickets in such cases “is a more challenging issue,” as it requires in-person delivery. Sending officers out of Surrey to do that, with the possibility the individual sought won’t be located on arrival, diminishes the capacity to respond to issues arising in Surrey, she said.

Horne said when she called bylaw services in Coquitlam, she was told “they don’t look after Surrey’s business.”

She said she called PAN after reading a March 22 article detailing another South Surrey resident’s experience with Surrey’s animal-responsibility bylaw.

READ MORE: Surrey’s animal bylaw ‘basically useless,’ says critic

David Dines told PAN that he had a confrontation with an aggressive at-large dog while walking along 16 Avenue near King George Boulevard on March 17, and that he was frustrated to learn that bylaw officers don’t order leashes or muzzles following such reports.

Marosevich said the investigation into Dines’ report is also ongoing, and that the dog owner in that case is co-operating.

“In many of our investigations there are multiple versions of what has occurred during an incident and our officers use their training and investigative skills to navigate all of the evidence provided before concluding their files,” she said.

“This can be a lengthy process.”

Horne said in any case, “you can’t blame the dog.”

“The owner has to be responsible,” she said.

She’s not convinced that officials have exhausted all leads in locating the dog owner in her case.

“With her (licence) plate number, I don’t care if she lives in Timbuktu, eventually they can find her.”

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