La Loche woman attacked by dogs demands action
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.