Monday, July 31, 2006

Pit bulls maul dog, owner

Thu, July 27, 2006
Man tried to intervene in vicious attack, was attacked himself

Bandaged and bloodied, one day after a terrifying attack by two pit bulls in his own backyard, Bill Pargeter is too traumatized to eat or sleep.

But it isn’t his own injuries — a torn ear, multiple puncture wounds and serious gashes to his arm, hand and chest — that torment him.

The 42-year-old’s only worries are for his 10-year-old golden retriever, Tasha, who suffered the brunt of the attack and may never walk again.

“She is everything to me,” a distraught Pargeter said Thursday, tears streaming down his face.
“I would have fought those dogs off her until they put me in the ground. I would have done anything to save my dog.”

The horrifying assault — which happened in his own fenced-in backyard on Elizabeth Street — happened when Pargeter took his dog out for a bathroom break Wednesday night around 6 p.m.
Immediately, he said, his neighbour’s two large pit bulls — unchained and unmuzzled, but supervised by the neighbour — began barking through the chain-link fence separating the two backyards.

Within seconds, the muscular dogs — both of whom are registered in accordance with the city’s pit bull bylaw — had slipped under the fence and charged toward Tasha, he said.

“They pinned her down and they were tearing away at her,” Pargeter said. “I tried and tried to get them off. I wouldn’t let them kill my dog.”

Falling to his knees, Pargeter fought to pull the dogs away from Tasha, but in the process, one of the pit bulls turned on him.

“He lunged at my ear — I think he was going for my throat — and I just tried to punch him in the head,” he said, shaking with emotion.

“I was bleeding like crazy and I was just screaming for somebody to help me. Thank God somebody heard.”

A neighbour called police, who responded within minutes and jumped the fence into his backyard, he said.

They ordered Pargeter, who had managed to free himself from the pit bull’s grip, to back away.
They then fired shots at the pit bulls, killing one and injuring the other. The injured dog was euthanized Wednesday night at the owner’s request.

“He didn’t let go until he was dead,” Pargeter said of the bigger pit bull.

“Thank God Tasha was able to get up. She was bleeding from everywhere but at least she got up.”

While Pargeter was taken by ambulance to hospital for treatment of his injuries, his dog was rushed into surgery at an emergency veterinary clinic.

Doctors repaired skin that was torn away from inner tissue in several places, and gave her a blood transfusion to replenish the “enormous amount” of blood lost in the attack, said Dr. Peter Luczak, who is caring for Tasha now at the East London Animal Hospital.

The services will cost Pargeter up to $3,000, plus whatever further treatment Tasha requires under Dr. Luczak’s care.

“Will she walk again? We will have to wait and see,” Luczak said Thursday.

It’s too early to tell if Tasha — who is covered in stitches, bandages and cuts and is on three different pain medications — will pull through, he said.

But Pargeter, a factory worker at Cuddy’s, is determined to do whatever it takes to raise the money for Tasha’s care.

“I just want to save my dog,” he said.

On Thursday, Pargeter’s next-door neighbour, who was caring for the pit bulls while her son — their owner — is away, expressed sympathy for her neighbour.

“I feel bad,” she said. “Their dog is a lovely dog and I hope she recovers.”

But the unidentified woman said her and her son are “responsible pet owners” who always took precautions to ensure their pit bulls didn’t endanger anyone.

They usually didn’t let their dogs out in the yard if Pargeter’s dog was out, she said, and usually let him know in advance if they were going to be out back.

“We haven’t done anything wrong,” she said.

The woman said the dogs are usually very obedient and she doesn’t know why they didn’t listen to her when she screamed at them as they slipped under the fence.

She said one of the dogs was recently neutered in accordance with the city’s pit bull bylaw, a procedure which she said drastically “changed him,” making him more aggressive and less obedient.

Both dogs have their 2006 license.

As of Thursday, police had not laid charges against the dog owner.

But several options exist for them to do so, including:

- They could lay charges under a municipal bylaw that prohibits any dog from running at large. The charge comes with at least a $150 fine.

- Charges could also be laid under Ontario’s recently-enhanced Dog Owner Liability Act, which states that owners must use reasonable precautions to prevent dogs from biting or attacking domestic pets or people. Charges could result in hefty fines or jail time.

Residents in the neighbourhood Thursday day said they weren’t surprised to hear the pit bulls had attacked.

“They’re not nice dogs,” said Lou Wheeler. “One morning one cornered me up against my van.”
Wheeler said the resident who lived in Pargeter’s house before him had a German shepherd who was killed by the dogs.

But a city official said there’s no record of such an attack.

“We do have record of a couple of visits (from animal control officers) in July and August (2001),” said Jay Stanford, the city’s manager of environmental services, adding police attended the pit bull owner’s home in August of that year.

“But we have no record that would suggest an attack or a death.”

Since that time, he said, there’s been no calls or complaints regarding the pit bulls, he said.


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