The Campbell River SPCA received complaints about a pair of rogue pit bulls as far back as June and again in early September, but did not move to seize the most vicious of the pair until after it killed a miniature
On Friday, the unidentified Willow Point owner of the dogs agreed to allow the seized pit bull to be destroyed after an angry confrontation at his Westgate Road home with SPCA staff and a city bylaw enforcement officer backed up by RCMP officers.
The seizure came just hours after the Mirror published a front page story describing the dog’s vicious Sept. 26 attack that left the dachshund mortally injured and its family traumatized.
The pure bred three-year-old dachshund, Oscar, was being walked by John Miller, the 65-year-old father of the dog’s owner Sheryl Miller. Her two children, Kacee, 6 and Nevaeh, 3, were also walking with their grandfather when the pit bull leapt over its owner’s fence at the corner of Westgate and Arnason roads. John Miller, covered in blood after protecting his grandchildren, went into shock and spent two days in hospital.
Sheryl Miller said: “What if they had gone after my kids or my dad … what then? This is not the first time these dogs have been in trouble. But, people in the neighbourhood have been afraid to come forward.”
Miller’s vet bill for unsuccessful emergency surgery to repair severed neck muscles was more than $800, including $100 to have the animal cremated.
Now, an Ocean Grove resident has revealed that he had a run in with the vicious pit bulls when he was visiting family near Westgate and Arnason in June. The resident fears reprisal from the pit bull owner and asked to have his name withheld.
“The pit bulls broke down the fence in their yard and attacked my dog which was in my truck. I had to smash the truck door against the one dog’s rib cage to stop the attack. I reported this to the SPCA. I went there in person and they told me they knew the dogs and that the owner had been fined before this,” the Ocean Grove resident said.
“I warned them that kids could be attacked by these animals. It’s a shame the dachshund had to die before something was done. Not enough was done.”
The BC SPCA general manager of operations Bob Busch said no action was taken in this incident because “there was no first hand witness and the owner of the dog attacked would not give a statement.”
A resident on Westgate Road, who also asked not to be named, confirms that the pit bulls have threatened people.
“These two dogs chased a man into my yard. There was terror in his eyes,” she said. “The kids were getting out of school and running around. It was just by the grace of God that one of them was not attacked.”
She said she called the police. “When the RCMP officer caught sight of the dogs he quickly jumped back in his cruiser.”
Apparently, a “dog at large” ticket was issued by the city following this incident, but when the matter came to court Sept. 13 the “civilian” witness did not show up and the charge was stayed.
After the seizure of the pit bull on Friday Campbell River SPCA Manager Kathleen Embree said the Mirror story “almost wrecked it for us because it came out on the front page of the newspaper so we had to act very expediently because it was going to be an issue.”
In fact, a provincial court judge had issued a warrant to seize the dog Tuesday, Oct. 16, one day before Embree first told the Mirror there had been an attack.
Bylaw enforcement manager Pete Wipper said the three day delay in exercising the warrant was due to scheduling difficulties getting the RCMP, the SPCA and the bylaw officer “co-ordinated.” He added that he wants the public to be reassured that the city “was taking this file very seriously” and “a lot was happening behind the scenes to make this happen.”
None of the authorities involved have identified the pit bull owner. A second pit bull that played a lesser role in the Sept. 26 attack was not seized.