Pit bulls are on White Rock's radar.

Pit bull attacks prompt review

Mayor calls on staff to probe pet policies following pair of incidents

White Rock’s mayor is calling for a complete review of the city’s policies surrounding dogs following disclosure this week of another pit bull attack.

“It seems to me to be proactive on this matter, and for council to take some steps,” Mayor Wayne Baldwin said at a city council meeting Monday.

In a well-publicized incident Aug. 20, a pit bull attacked a small dog and its owner – a woman in her 70s – in White Rock, resulting in serious injuries to the dog and the woman’s hand. The city released details of the incident in an Aug. 29 news release, but did not disclose the location.

The attacking pit bull is now in custody, Baldwin told Peace Arch News, adding it’s up to the owner whether the dog is euthanized. If not, Baldwin said the city will “probably” take the matter to court.

“Obviously the dog is really aggressive,” he said.

At Monday’s meeting, Baldwin revealed that another pit bull attack happened Sept. 3. In that case, a woman was walking her dog on the beach by the white rock – contrary to city rules that ban dogs on the beach – when two off-leash dogs attacked her pet.

Baldwin later told PAN he did not speak to the woman directly, but said she reported the incident to police and believed at least one of the dogs was a pit bull.

The mayor also recounted at council other pit bull attacks in White Rock in recent years.

On Nov. 22, 2010, a pit bull attacked and killed a yorkie-poodle cross in White Rock. In that case, a Surrey Provincial Court judge ordered the dog destroyed a year later.

On July 8, 2012 a skimboarder was attacked by a pit bull on East Beach, leaving him with injuries to his leg.

On Aug. 23, 2012, a four-year-old girl was walking past a young pit bull at a family gathering when the dog lunged and latched onto her neck. The girl needed up to 40 stitches to close the wound, and the dog was euthanized with the owner’s consent.

In another incident, not mentioned Monday, a pit bull injured a horse on the sands of East Beach south of Semiahmoo Park on Aug. 29, 2009. The dog latched onto the horse’s chest and bit the female rider’s leg as she struggled to stay on her animal. The horse eventually kicked off the pit bull before its owner retrieved his dog and walked away.

City staff have been tasked with preparing a report to council that Baldwin said should consider whether White Rock needs “breed-specific bylaws.” He’s also calling for an analysis of fees and fines and how they compare with other jurisdictions, and information on “educational” and “partnership” opportunities.

Dog licensing is also on his radar.

“We currently have 519 dogs licensed. And I know there are more – way way more than that – in this city. Last year we had over 600 licensed.”

White Rock isn’t the only city whose residents don’t register their dogs with the city. In Vancouver, city staff estimate just one in seven dogs is licensed.

“We’re not the only ones that have these issues,” said Baldwin. “We’ve got to do more.”

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