VERNON - A Vernon woman will think twice before visiting a dog park after her four-pound Yorkshire terrier died after being attacked at the DND grounds last month.
Cassandra Malinosky took her five-year-old dog Jemma almost everywhere with her, including work, and always kept a watchful eye over her, particularly because she was so tiny. But her worst nightmare came true a few weeks ago when she took Jemma to the DND grounds.
“She was off smelling a tree, and I was watching her,” Malinosky says. “That’s when I heard someone screaming at their dog. When I looked over, a dog was running towards mine, and the (handler) was running across the field after it.”
Malinosky sprinted for Jemma, but the other dog, a husky she believes, was already upon her.
“It ran up, sniffed her, and then it just picked her up by her body and threw her in the air. (Jemma) landed on the ground and the other dog went to pick her up again,” Malinosky says of the May incident.
Jemma was yelping, and her stomach began swelling up almost instantly, Malinosky says, adding her tongue turned white. The handler grabbed the dog and apologized, saying it hadn’t done anything like this before. Malinosky scooped up her dog and rushed to the vet.
“I had my dog in my arms and I ran and jumped in my vehicle,” Malinosky says. “When I got inside (the vet’s) I was bawling my eyes out. I went in and said, ‘I need help.’”
The vet put a breathing mask on Jemma, but the internal injuries were too serious. She had to be put down.
Malinosky believes the attack could have been prevented if the other person had control of the pet. It's a situation Pat Ellis with K9 control hears of often, and she says people need to take more responsibility for their dogs.
“The (dog park) signs say your dog must be under your control at all times. If you can’t call that dog back, it’s not under your control,” Ellis says.
Even in off-leash dog parks, Ellis says you must be able to either grab your dog, or if they’re out of reach, have them respond on the spot to a command.
“People think these are great areas to take their dogs and turn them loose, “ Ellis says. “Even if your dog has never attacked before, it always should be under control.”
Owners can be fined as much as $500 for aggressive dogs, Ellis notes. From Jan.1 to May 31 dog control issued seven tickets for menacing dogs, six for dogs that bit or injured a person, 14 for dogs that bit or injured another animal, three for an unsecured, dangerous dog and one for a dangerous dog that wasn’t muzzled.
If dog control gets a complaint, they will investigate it with a good chance of issuing a ticket, but Ellis says many people still aren’t reporting aggressive dogs.
“If it’s not reported there’s nothing we can do,” Ellis says.
Malinosky hopes others learn from the incident, and keep more control over their animals while at dog parks.
“There’s responsibility with each animal you get, and you have to have respect for other people. This definitely wouldn’t have happened if they’d had the dog on a leash,” she says.
She plans to get another dog, a Yorkshire terrier like Jemma, but she won’t be racing back to dog parks in Vernon any time soon.
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— This story was edited at 7:55 a.m. June 17, 2015 to correct that it was a handler, not the owner, of the other dog that was at the park when the incident ocurred.