Dog catcher on the job in Wagmatcook
WAGMATCOOK — Band council has hired a dog catcher for this First Nations community, where residents say they live in fear of being attacked by the roaming animals.
Brian Arbuthnot, director of operations at the Wagmatcook First Nation, said the dog catcher was to meet with band council to be briefed about the community’s bylaw for dealing with stray and fierce dogs.
A dog crackdown can’t come soon enough for resident Tonia Paul, whose five-year-old daughter Cassandra was terrorized by an encounter with seven of the animals in her yard about four weeks ago.
Lucky, the family dog, suffered fatal wounds defending Cassandra against the other animals while the girl cowered in a doghouse during the incident, which ended when Paul chased them away with a stick. “These dogs were huge.” Monday morning, there were three loose dogs in her yard again. She thought the dogs were owned by someone who failed to stop them from running loose.
Paul said other residents of Wagmatcook are being terrorized by dogs wandering the community and band council has to stop it.
Wagmatcook resident Joe Oleson said he fended off a number of dogs that were menacing his daughter, Naomi, who was seven at the time, in an incident about a year ago as they walked to the spot where she was to meet her drive to school.
Oleson said he knows of another woman who was bitten on the leg and of other residents fearful of being attacked.
“Dogs are roaming all over the place. It’s still a problem,” he said. “People are really concerned about it. People are fed up with it.”
Arbuthnot said the bylaw can require dog owners to put tags on their pets and will empower the dog catcher to take custody of stray or fierce animals that are roaming the streets.
A dog catcher can put an animal up for adoption or have it destroyed depending on the circumstances, he said..
Arbuthnot said he personally hasn’t noticed a large number of stray dogs but band council is taking the complaints seriously. He didn’t know whether the dogs involved in complaints were strays.
Arbuthnot said he doesn’t think the dog problem is any worse in Wagmatcook generally than in any other community.
“From time to time in different communities you may have a lot of dogs. It’s funny, I was talking to people from Halifax the other day and they were talking about loose dogs on the Commons.
“It’s not just an aboriginal or reserve issue. It happens in a lot of different communities and again, we are dealing with it effectively and through the bylaw.”
Arbuthnot said he did receive a complaint in October about a dog attack from a young woman who was bitten and the animal was put down.
“Most dogs, we expect homeowners to take responsibility whether they chain them or put them in the yard, that’s their responsibility.”