Owner of ag­gres­sive dog in Gros Morne attack may have been found

Nor'wester (Springdale) - - CLASSIFIED - BY GARY KEAN

The owner of a small dog fa­tally wounded by a larger dog in Gros Morne Na­tional Park last week says au­thor­i­ties have been in con­tact with the other dog’s owner.

Kather­ine Ralph and a friend were walk­ing two of Ralph’s small Ha­vanese dogs on their leashes on the West­ern Brook Pond hik­ing trail Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon when one of the small dogs was at­tacked by a larger dog.

Donk, a one-and-a-half-yearold weigh­ing just nine pounds, suf­fered se­ri­ous bite wounds when the larger dog shook Donk in its mouth. He was brought to a vet­eri­nar­ian in Cor­ner Brook, but later died.

Donk was hav­ing one of the most fan­tas­tic days of his life. That is the mem­ory Ralph will cher­ish for­ever.

Ear­lier in the day, Donk had been cruis­ing down the high­way with his tiny head out the win­dow, had been treated to a Tim­bit that he swal­lowed whole and had rol­licked and rolled in the sand and sea­weed at Shal­low Bay.

Ralph’s older Ha­vanese, Skip, was with them too

Ralph, who is from Jack­son’s Arm but now lives in Hal­i­fax, and the friend ac­com­pa­ny­ing her then de­cided to take the dogs for a mid-af­ter­noon walk on the hik­ing trail into West­ern Brook Pond.

At one point, they passed a man with a larger black dog.

Ralph said she heard Skip, who was be­ing walked by her friend be­hind her, yelp. She turned around to see the big­ger dog fo­cus­ing its at­ten­tion on Skip.

Ralph said she went back to­wards Skip to see what was hap­pen­ing. That’s when the larger dog at­tacked Donk, pick­ing him up and shak­ing him vi­o­lently in his mouth.

Ralph tried to get the man’s name and con­tact in­for­ma­tion, but said he was too busy try­ing to con­trol his dog. When she re­al­ized Donk had been se­ri­ously in­jured, she knew she had to get him med­i­cal treat­ment im­me­di­ately.

As they were leav­ing, she asked by­standers who had helped defuse the ca­nine con­fronta­tion to get the man’s in­for­ma­tion.

Donk was bleed­ing pro­fusely. Ralph wrapped him in gauze and they drove him to a vet in Cor­ner Brook.

Al­though Ralph said Donk was alert and even able to sit up when they ar­rived at the vet, his in­juries were in­deed se­ri­ous. The vet went to work to save him, but called Ralph to ask if she wanted the vet to keep work­ing on him or to con­sider eu­th­a­niz­ing him.

By the time Ralph ar­rived at the vet late Wed­nes­day evening, there was no tough de­ci­sion to make. Donk had al­ready died of his in­juries.

Ralph still wanted to make con­tact with the owner of the black dog. She has no idea if any­one was able to get his iden­tity or any con­tact in­for­ma­tion.

“I feel for him and I’m sure he feels guilty about what hap­pened and I’m sure he will be just as dev­as­tated as us if he finds out my dog has passed,” she said. “But I think it’s im­por­tant to know if his dog has ag­gres­sive ten­den­cies so we can make sure this doesn’t hap­pen again.”

Ralph said she is un­sure of what kind of dog it was, but be­lieves it was a mixed breed of some sort. Ei­ther way, she em­pha­sized she is op­posed to the idea of breed-spe­cific bans or leg­is­la­tion.

She also could not tell if the big­ger dog was ini­tially on a leash or not. She re­mem­bered the man hold­ing the dog tightly as they passed one an­other mo­ments be­fore the attack and doesn’t re­call see­ing a leash as ef­forts were be­ing made to sep­a­rate the dogs.

Ralph has filed a re­port about the in­ci­dent with both the RCMP and with Parks Canada, which han­dles law en­force­ment is­sues within the na­tional park.

In an emailed state­ment, Parks Canada wrote vis­i­tor safety is al­ways a top pri­or­ity for the agency. Parks Canada was aware of this par­tic­u­lar in­ci­dent and is in­ves­ti­gat­ing it.

A friend of Ralph has set up a fundrais­ing page at www.gofundme.com to help off­set the un­ex­pected and hefty vet bill in­curred try­ing to save Ralph.

“No amount of money will bring him back, but I take com­fort know­ing he had a good day be­fore­hand and was as happy as he could pos­si­bly be be­fore that mo­ment,” she said.

Ac­cord­ing to Ralph, the dog which at­tacked her dog was a large black dog, likely a mixed breed, that went by the name Bear and which was wear­ing a red col­lar on the West­ern Brook pond hik­ing trail Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon.

She de­scribed the dog’s owner as a white man in his 50s, stand­ing around five-foot-six and wear­ing glasses and a khaki-coloured, brimmed hat. She be­lieved the man was walk­ing alone.

Late Fri­day af­ter­noon, Ralph told The West­ern Star she had been told by a Parks Canada war­den the RCMP in Rocky Har­bour had lo­cated and con­tacted the man be­lieved to own the dog re­spon­si­ble.

Ralph said she had not spo­ken with the man who owns the dog. Fri­day, Parks Canada would not make any fur­ther com­ment about the on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion. There was no an­swer at the RCMP de­tach­ment in Rocky Har­bour and, as of dead­line Fri­day, no re­sponses were re­ceived to mes­sages left with both the de­tach­ment and the RCMP’s pro­vin­cial com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fi­cers.

“I feel for him and I’m sure he feels guilty about what hap­pened and I’m sure he will be just as dev­as­tated as us if he finds out my dog has passed. But I think it’s im­por­tant to know if his dog has ag­gres­sive ten­den­cies so we can make sure this doesn’t hap­pen again.” — Kather­ine Ralph

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Donk, a one-and-a-half-year-old weigh­ing just nine pounds, suf­fered se­ri­ous bite wounds when a larger dog shook Donk in its mouth. He was brought to a vet­eri­nar­ian in Cor­ner Brook, but later died.

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