Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Sue me, St. John's mayor tells owners of attack dogs

Last Updated: Tuesday, September 19, 2006 12:02 PM NT
CBC News

St. John's Mayor Andy Wells says he's prepared to face lawsuits over a city crackdown on aggressive dogs, urging staff to "put the damn dog down" if it seems dangerous.

"We're going to go after them and try to get those dogs," said Wells on Monday night as he responded to a weekend incident in which two pit bulls attacked another dog in the city.

"I've told our staff that whenever we get an animal that they think is dangerous, then — as far as I'm concerned — put the damn dog down," Wells, who owns several dogs himself, told CBC News.

"The owner can take us to court. Let the courts decide what our liability is. We've served the public interest."

The owner of the pit bulls left the scene of the attack — near Quidi Vidi Lake, in the east end of St. John's — without taking responsibility for what had happened.

Sue Martin said she panicked when she saw the two pit bulls attack her pet Misty, an Australian shepherd.

"We spent the next three or four minutes just trying to get his dogs to let go of her, and believe you me, they were not going to let go," she said.

Give higher fines to owners, trainer urges

Dog trainer Glenn Redmond, who spoke for the SPCA as the agency sponsored a forum on aggressive dogs on Monday night, said there are no bad breeds — just bad owners.

Redmond said irresponsible dog owners must face harsher penalties, such as high fines.

"We can't save every dog that has been led down a wrong path, but we can stop a second dog from being led down the same path by the same owner," Redmond said.

More than 200 people attended the SPCA's meeting, which was scheduled before the latest attack took place.

Wells said the people who need to hear the message of taking responsibility of one's pets were not there.

'I have to question the mentality, the mindset, of a human being who'd want to have those types of dogs, that are a threat to other animals and other people.'-St. John's Mayor Andy Wells

"I have to question the mentality, the mindset, of a human being who'd want to have those types of dogs, that are a threat to other animals and other people," said Wells.

"This was a great seminar. The problem is, the wrong people are here," he said.

"[It's] the idiots, the fools and the non-competents that cause all the problems."

City searching for pit bulls' owner

Redmond said the SPCA would like to see several reforms, including a ban on chaining dogs up, which he says can make an animal more aggressive in the long run.

"First thing, we would like to see a ban on tethering," he said.

"Statistically, they say a tethered dog is more dangerous than a roaming pack of dogs.… There' s so many dogs here of unknown temperament."

Meanwhile, Wells said city officials are working hard to identify the owner of the pit bulls that attacked on Sunday.

He said they have narrowed down their search to a small number of owners.


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