Pit bull victim of repeated dog attacks owner blames lax rules


    After being attacked three times in six months by the same dog in her neighbourhood, one Rivière-Beaudette pit bull owner says the police and city aren’t doing enough to keep people safe from vicious dogs.

    At the same time as cities like Montreal have tried to ban pit bulls because of their reputation as dangerous animals, Stephanie Brabant said her town and the Sûreté du Québec of Vaudreuil-Ouest are not doing enough to protect people from dogs who are demonstrating dangerously aggressive behaviour.

    Last week, as Brabant was walking her male pit bull through her neighbourhood, a Rottweiler broke loose from his owners and ran across the street in what Brabant described as a “full-blown attack charge,” provoking a fight with her dog.

    It was the third time in six months that Brabant had been attacked by the same dog.

    The first time the rogue Rottweiler attacked Brabant, she was in her own yard with her roommate and their three dogs, two pit bulls and a German shepherd. Brabant’s dogs tried to protect her, but she told them to stand down. While her roommate held back their own animals to prevent a dog fight, Brabant kneed the Rottweiler as he jumped on her and managed to grab his leash and hold his two front feet off the ground to get him under control. The Rottweiler bit her leg, but its teeth didn’t break the skin. The dog’s huge paws left scratches on her leg and a bruise the size of her fist on her inner thigh.

    “He showed all signs of aggression,” said Brabant. “Hair standing, drooling, growling and constantly trying to attack me while I held his leash.”

    Brabant called the police and the town to file a complaint after the incident, but she said she was told because the bite didn’t break the skin they could only issue a warning.

    She didn’t report the second incident, about three weeks ago, when Brabant said the Rottweiler ran into her yard again, charging towards her German shepherd. She picked up a stick and ran towards the animal, successfully scaring him away.

    Brabant said she has also seen the dog charge at people at the end of his leash when tied up, and bark and growl at young children and people walking their dogs.

    Rivière-Beaudette Inspector Stéphanie Sigouin said the town doesn’t have any laws specifically against so-called “dangerous” dogs, but there are rules about nuisance dogs who roam unleashed, bark or otherwise disturb the peace. Sigouin said if a dog leaves its home and attacks or bites someone, it becomes a police matter.

    In Brabant’s case, the owner of the dog lives in a rental apartment, and Sigouin said she has contacted the landlord to issue a verbal warning.

    “It’s the landlord’s responsibility to ensure his tenants keep control of their animals,” said Sigouin. “If the owner is not able to control his dogs, it’s the landlord that has to ensure his tenant is respecting the rules.”

    Sgt. Daniel Thibaudeau, a spokesperson for the SQ, said officers are empowered to give tickets to dog owners for bylaw infractions such as barking, biting, allowing animals to run loose, or failing to pick up excrement. Tickets start at $100 plus fees, but fines for repeat offenders can be up to $2,000 for an individual and $15,000 for an organization. Thibaudeau said if the problem still doesn’t stop, the city can seek court permission to levy a higher fine or remove the animal from its owner’s care.

    After the most recent attack on Brabant, on October 12, she filed a second police report, and police said they would issue a $200 ticket to the Rottweiler’s owner. But Brabant doesn’t believe that’s enough to prevent another attack, and is now planning to consult a lawyer about her options for legal action.

    “A ticket is just not enough. The dog needs to be seized, evaluated and either put down or rehomed,” she said.