Dog fights among the most common reasons for emergency vet visits

A Saturday afternoon run with the dog turned into a nightmare for one pet owner recently when her Chocolate Lab was attacked and bitten by two other dogs.

“They just kept coming and there was nothing I could do. If I got in there I would have gotten mauled too,” said Sabrina Wos, who owns a cabin near the entry to China Ridge Trails near Princeton where the incident took place.

“It was just really hard to watch and go through. I feel like I’ve let her down. She is such a sweet dog.”

All three dogs were off leash, said Wos, but the attacking animals came around a bend in the trail and went right after her pooch, Pesto.

What followed was an acrimonious encounter with the owner of the other dogs, and an after-hours visit to the Cascade Veterinary Clinic, where Pesto received stitches.

A large bite to Pesto’s hind leg was sewn up by gathering loose flapping skin, and a drain was inserted in the wound.

Pesto also suffered from an abrasion and a separate puncture wound.

Wos suffered a $544 vet bill, and is now dealing with a recovering pet who is uncharacteristically skittish and withdrawn, and demands a lot of attention.

“It’s heartbreaking,” she said.

According to veterinarian Dr. Ryan Ridgway dog attacks make up a big chunk of the emergency calls received at the Cascade Clinic during the summer months.

“We get one or two every week during the summer, especially around the long weekends,” he said. “Some of them come through the day, but most of them are on an emergency basis.”

Breed doesn’t seem to matter when it comes to a dog attack, said Ridgway.

“I know everybody wants to blame your standard Pit Bull breed and those kinds of breeds – Rottweilers, Dobermans – but any dog that is nervous will start a fight…Border Collies, Labs. We see little dogs get in fights. As far as breed goes it’s across the board.”

Some of the clinic’s cases involve human injuries as well, he said.

“Sometimes they bring the dog in while they are bleeding, and we tell them to get to the hospital and we take care of the dog,” said Ridgway.

Other times “our calls come from paramedics or the human emergency clinic because the owner had to go in to get stitches and the dog gets stitches too.”

Ridgway said the best strategy when a dog gets into a fight or is attacked is to “ try not to get in the way. That’s how people get bit. Try breaking them up without grabbing them. Spray a hose, use a stick or try to get their attention by yelling.”

Ridgway said owners should keep their dogs leashed, make sure they are trained to respond to commands, and socialize them in controlled environments.

According to RCMP Corporal Chad Parsons, the local detachment only gets one or two calls a year about dog attacks, and there usually isn’t anything police can do.

“It’s more of a civil matter.”

In Princeton the animal control bylaw stipulates that dogs must be leashed. Vicious dogs, as defined by the bylaw, also cannot be in public without a muzzle.

While some communities within the RDOS adhere to an animal control bylaw, Area H does not, said director Bob Coyne.

“How would you ever enforce it?” Area H is almost 200 km across,” he said.

“If we put in a bylaw we have to be willing to pay for it and we have to be willing to enforce it.”

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andrea.demeer@similkameenspotlight.com

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