Debate over pit bulls reignited after girl attacked
The debate over pit bulls has been reignited after a four-year-old girl was attacked in Cole Harbour, N.S. on the weekend.
The girl’s father wants to see the dog destroyed, but some dog owners worry the attack is painting pit bulls with the same brush.
Janet Chernin owns a dog daycare. She says the incident should be looked at as a dog issue, and not a breed issue.
“People forget that Helen Keller’s dog was a pit bull terrier,” says Chernin, who owns an American Bulldog - pit bull mix.
The little girl is recovering in hospital after being bitten by the American Staffordshire Terrier - pit bull mix, but the fate of the dog is still unclear.
Cole Harbour RCMP responded to the call at a home on Arklow Drive shortly after 1 p.m. Sunday.
“Basically what I was told was she bent down to pet it a little and the dog snapped and bit her,” says Martin Geertsema, the girl’s father.
The little girl is now recovering after undergoing surgery.
“She has some nerve damage to the eyebrow,” says Geertsema. “They don’t know if that nerve will come back. It was basically severed in two locations.”
Geertsema says his daughter was with a family friend while visiting the home in Cole Harbour. The dog was supposed to be locked in a room but it got out.
Owner Natasha Parker says it was the first time her dog, Sausha, had bitten anyone.
“I’m shocked. I feel bad for the little girl,” says Parker. “I hope she’s doing alright.”
Today, the girl received a rabies shot as a precaution.
Geertsema says the dog should be destroyed and believes stricter regulations are needed.
“It’s not just the dog, it’s also the dog owner who is responsible,” says Geertsema. “Not to say this particular owner was negligent, but this particular breed requires an owner who is knowledgeable about that dog.”
Coun. Gloria McCluskey isn’t calling for a ban on the breed, but she agrees that mandatory training is needed for pit bull owners.
“It’s a serious situation and it’s time we looked into this,” says McCluskey.
“Some of them are probably lovely dogs, but there’s a history of pit bulls attacking humans and other dogs.”
Animal trainer Susan Jordan says children and dogs can mix, with the right supervision.
“All dogs can bite. Certainly, the bigger the dog, the bigger the mouth, so potentially the greater amount of possible damage that their jaws can do,” says Jordan.
“But it is more about socialization and training than it is about really getting caught in what breed it was.”
Chernin agrees, and believes training should be mandatory for all dog owners – not just owners of pit bulls.
“Children can move very, very quickly and make inappropriate motions to a dog, and a dog can also react very quickly if they feel threatened,” says Chernin.
The dog was seized by animal services officers Monday.
It will be quarantined, observed, and assessed for ten days to determine its risk to the public.
Animal control officers will then decide what happens to Sausha.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Garreth MacDonald