Dog catcher on the job in Wag­mat­cook

Cape Breton Post - - NEWS - BY CHRIS HAYES chayes@cb­

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.”

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