La Loche woman at­tacked by dogs de­mands ac­tion

Regina Leader-Post - - CITY + REGION - AN­DREA HILL ahill@post­ Twit­­dreaHill

SASKA­TOON A La Loche woman who was at­tacked by a pack of dogs last month says the com­mu­nity needs to do some­thing about its dog prob­lem be­fore some­one is killed.

Belinda Mont­grand was walk­ing to the vil­lage post of­fice af­ter 5 p.m. on Oct. 20 when more than 20 dogs sud­denly ran at her.

“I didn’t know what to do. I tried pick­ing up what­ever was on the road side, rocks, any­thing I could get hold of. I was so scared,” she said.

The dogs knocked Mont­grand to the ground and bit her, in­jur­ing her left leg. For­tu­nately, a man pass­ing by on an ATV scared the an­i­mals away and took her to the hos­pi­tal.

Af­ter she was re­leased, Mont­grand said she told the mayor about the in­ci­dent.

“What if it hap­pens to a child? Be­fore some­thing bad hap­pens, I wanted to do some­thing about it,” Mont­grand said.

There are no ve­teri­nar­i­ans in La Loche, which means op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple to spay and neuter their pets are lim­ited to when a group of vol­un­teer vets from Regina — who call them­selves “Team North” — visit once a year. Some peo­ple own sev­eral dogs and many stray ca­nines roam the vil­lage.

Mont­grand said the dogs that at­tacked her be­longed to a woman who hadn’t tied them up.

La Loche Mayor Robert St. Pierre ac­knowl­edges dog con­trol has been an is­sue for years. The com­mu­nity spends more than $20,000 a year on dog culls and to pay groups to take truck­loads of ca­nines out of the com­mu­nity for adop­tion else­where.

“It’s not like we’re not do­ing any­thing,” he said. “We’re do­ing what we can do, but of course, it’s never enough.”

La Loche has no reg­u­la­tions lim­it­ing the num­ber of dogs peo­ple can own.

“It’s kind of hard for an In­dige­nous com­mu­nity when we used to run dog teams and stuff,” St. Pierre said.

Even if there were rules, they would be nearly im­pos­si­ble to en­force be­cause there’s no by­law con­trol of­fi­cer in the vil­lage.

St. Pierre said the La Loche dog con­trol of­fi­cer vis­ited the owner of the dogs that at­tacked Mont­grand, but the dogs were tied up when he vis­ited so noth­ing could be done.

At pub­lic meet­ings this fall, com­mu­nity mem­bers dis­cussed what more can be done to crack down on the vil­lage’s large dog pop­u­la­tion. They considered look­ing into whether more spay and neuter clin­ics can be held in La Loche.

Team North leader Dr. Les­ley Sawa has trav­elled to La Loche for the last eight years to host free clin­ics where dogs are spayed or neutered. She would like to host clin­ics more fre­quently, “but fund­ing is a huge is­sue.”

At present, the trips are cov­ered by fundrais­ing ef­forts.

An­other group op­er­at­ing such clin­ics is the Univer­sity of Saskatchewan’s Western Col­lege of Vet­eri­nary Medicine, vis­it­ing La Ronge twice a year.

Dr. Jor­dan Woodsworth, who or­ga­nizes the clin­ics, said of­fer­ing clin­ics in La Loche “isn’t a pos­si­bil­ity right now” be­cause the col­lege lacks the money and re­sources.

Mean­while, Mont­grand re­mains wor­ried that she or her teenage daugh­ter could be the vic­tims of an­other at­tack. She doesn’t own a car and walks ev­ery­where, but now she’s wor­ried about leav­ing her house.

“I’m still trau­ma­tized from (the at­tack),” she said.


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